Fireworks sales could help district budgets

Selling them in Costa Mesa schools is an idea being reconsidered after the ban's 'unintended consequences.'

October 20, 2010|By Tom Ragan,

COSTA MESA — School board Clerk David Brooks recently suggested that the Newport-Mesa Unified School District revisit the idea of allowing booster clubs to sell Fourth of July fireworks on Costa Mesa school properties.

The ban on sales at school sites has had "unintended consequences," he said, meaning that campus programs are not benefitting as much as they can from the sales because they must compete with other programs at fireworks stands that line city streets.

"We need to create the beginning of some dialogue to help the booster clubs," Brooks said. "They need our help during these economic times."


In 2001, the school district banned the sale of fireworks on school properties in Costa Mesa for "liability reasons." Since then it's been tough raising enough money for some of the varsity teams in the district, said Marykay Jones, secretary of Estancia High School's athletics department.

While the district distributes $30,000 a year to the high school for sports-related items, such as uniforms and equipment, Jones said more often than not the money, while appreciated, simply does not go far enough.

But to give just a sense of how much sporting goods items cost, Jones said the average cost per football player on the high school's football team comes to roughly $500 per student.

"Now take 21 other sports and put them all together and try to pay for everything, and you'll see what I'm talking about," she said.

The city of Costa Mesa permits limited fireworks sales for a variety of organizations. Around Independence Day, fireworks stands line city streets.

Though in the same school district, the city of Newport Beach does not permit fireworks sales inside its boundaries, so some Newport programs raise money at Costa Mesa stands.

"I would love to see the policy revisited," Jones said. "We have the perfect parking lot at Estancia to sell them, too. We have a banana-shaped parking lot where people can get in and get out and they don't have to bother with trying to find parking."

Jones said the problems with trying to sell fireworks along the major thoroughfares of Costa Mesa is that there's simply "too much competition."

Making matters worse, Jones said, is the Newport schools more often than not have more financial support due to that city's economic advantages.

"I just don't understand why they're out there," said Jones, adding that she was speaking as a parent, not as an Estancia employee.

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