Thursday, August 9, 2007

School Supplies Cost How Much?

Just came back from shopping for school supplies for Ten. There are still some items that I need to purchase, and there were some items from the list of supplies, which I didn't have to purchase because I already had them in the house. The bill came to $92.92 . Yes, you read that right, almost $100 dollars in school supplies for just one child going into 5th grade.

What, you may ask could possible cost so much? I bought Ten a 'durable 1 and 1/2" 3 ring binder, 2 packages of college ruled lined paper, crayons, markers, erasers, 12- tab dividers (I don't think there are 12 subjects covered in 5th grade), book covers...well you get the idea.

One item that really has me perplexed was the request for 48 pencils. What could 1 fifth grade boy possibly do with 48 pencils, other than build a fort? Even if he lost things and needed to replace a pencil each week, he would not need 48 of them. Ten figures that he used about 15 pencils while in 4th grade. (and I had to buy 48 pencils last year). Unless they plan to have the students write a tome, I can't see them using 48 pencils in one school year.

So that leads me to these questions. Is it possible that I am being asked to provide extra supplies for those children who's family cannot affort to supply them? It's possible. Is it possible that I am being asked to provide extra supplies for those children who's families can afford to buy them, but choose not to? It's possible. Do I feel bad for those students who's families cannot afford to buy these supplies ? You bet I do. Do I feel resentful towards the parents who can well afford to buy these supplies for their children, but choose not to? You bet I do.

Do I think that the school district should tell me honestly what supplies my son needs for fifth grade? You bet I do. Would I still buy extra so that the teacher would have extra supplies? You bet I would. But I resent subsidizing those who would rather ski in Vail this winter, or go to Europe, or redecorate their houses instead of purchasing the basic school supplies for their children.

11 comments:

Nancy Dancehall said...

I totally agree.

My boyos' school has an option wherein you can go to a website, type in the school and grade, whip out your credit card, and blam! instant back-to-school supplies appear on Orientation Night. I took that route because
a) it's easy
and
b) everything gets collected and redistributed anyway.

Michele said...

Egads! 48 pencils?? What the ?!? Oh well... Things sure have changed from the days I have shopped for school supplies. When I went shopping, there was just a basic simple list and the rest was our choice. It was so easy and it was fun. I couldn't wait to go out and get my school supplies, now it's so scary that you have to follow it so perfectly otherwise you get sent home. Kids have it so hard today, but then the parents have to suffer along with it... well, it just seems that way.

Pam said...

I'm with you -- I'm glad to help out but I resent not being given the choice to do so.

Patti said...

Yes, yes, yes and YES!! (to however many questions you posed on this subject)

48 pencils is ridiculous. Although I agree I would feel badly for the kids whose families cannot afford the basics for them.

Ralph said...

I think that a honest list is what's needed. (48) pencils seems excessive, even if no. 2 pencils are inexpensive. Of course, who doesn't feel bad for those who might have a problem in purchasing these supplies. Have a fundraiser earlier in the year and solicit donations for such a cause? What supplies are essential, and what supplies are so much fluff?

ARM said...

I love school supplies and spend hundreds of dollars on them every year and I don't even have kids...I may have a problem.

About the buying of extra supplies for the other kids in class. I'm torn on this. I do agree that it's unfortunate that there are kids whose parents can't afford the basic necessities and they should have access to these necessities. HOWEVER, I do not agree with asking other student's parents to purchase extras to make up for this. I feel that the school should be providing these for the students - not the other students. I don't know what it's like where you live or if your kids go to a public school or not. But where I love, my property taxes are pretty high because of all the schools. I feel in a sense that we are already paying for these things. And to ask parents to buy 48 pencils so they can be shared with other students is ridiculous.

And now I'll step down from my soapbox.

Joan said...

I do not understand the mindset of a school district that would misrepresent the quantity of needed school supplies as a method for providing for less fortunate students. Do they not trust parents to open their hearts and donate money and/or supplies to aid needy students? How sad is that?!?! And where is the State's responsibility in providing the basic supplies for a student's needs?

ms chica said...

I agree with ARM. I'm torn on this too. It sounds like the school supply list is growing out of control if parents are subsidizing community supplies. I'm not sure how the supply racket works here, but my sis told me her youngest was expected to bring in a box of tissues and some other non-educational items to subsidize the classroom.

I wonder how tax dollars are spent for pre-schoolers to have to provide their own toilet paper, then I remember how much our local schools spend on their coaching staffs because football is more important than whether or not Johnny can read.

On a less bitter note, I noticed at the grocery store, you can donate a bag of school supplies to a kid less fortunate. Needy kids get supplies from community effort. At least that isn't a violation of free will.

Renee said...

I just bought a bunch of school supplies for the needy kids donated through our Church...I think I might have spent $20...but I didn't get a back pack or calculator.

I do think it's rather crummy that they're forcing folks to provide for the less fortunate...Course I remember the days of bringing in tissues & paper towels each year. What schools should do is get a great bulk discount and each kid have to bring in just the money for the supplies. If they bought enough (paper by the case & such) they could probably get supplies down to like $20 and the kid would just need to buy a backpack to store it in. LOL

Happy back to school. I'll be waiting for Jan when the prices are slashed and I can stock up.

Lynn said...

Nancy - My kids used to go to an elementary school where they gave us an amount and we wrote a check for the supplies. You are right, it was so much easier. Unfortuately, the Elem. school that Ten goes to doesn't do it that way.

Michele - I too have fond memories of going to buy school supplies as a child. We'd buy a binder, paper, dividers,lunchbox and some pencils (certainly not 48 of them)and call it a day. These days, the list specifies certain 'name brands' and we are told not to deviate from the list.

Pam - Exactly. Just give me the option. In fact, let me write a check, and I will use it as a tax deductible donation to the school (and probably be far more generous).

Patti - Thanks, thanks, thanks. Can you imagine 96 students in fifth grade, each bringing 48 pencils...that's over 4600 pencils for just the 5th grade! Not to mention the additional 12 pencils that each student was asked to bring in for the music teacher.

Ralph - You hit the nail on the head. I want an honest list of which supplies my son needs, and a different 'Wish List' from the teacher.

Arm - My kids go to public school. My property taxes are high, and they keep passing 'bonds' which add to the cost of living in this community. As I mentioned in my comment to Patti, if all 96 students, in just the 5th grade bring in 48 pencils, that's over 4600 pencils in just one grade...multiply that by 5 grades (we won't count kindergarten) and that's over 23,000 pencils at one school. They could build a room with that many pencils!

Joan - I think that no one has bothered to update this supply list, in years. I'm thinking my school district would rather spend the money on technology, than on the basic supplies.

Ms. Chica - I didn't mention the box of FAMILY size tissues, and the LYSOL wipes that we are required to send in. Our superintentent is very involved in technology, and I am thinking that many of the funds for basic supplies, are being diverted to support his technology obsession.

Renee - I also am more than willing to donate supplies, or cash, to certain organizations. Just be straight with me and tell me that I am subsidizing others. You are so right, cash donations allow for the items to be purchased in bulk, thus being a more responsible use of resources.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am really late to this discussion, but I can feel your pain. Some of the things that none of you have mentioned ( I think) is the teachers asking for dry erase markers w/ eraser and copy paper. These two items are $12 all by themselves.

I have no problem in supplying my children with their supplies, and I don't have a problem in donating supplies for the needy, but I do have a serious problem with supplying the teachers with their supplies. IMO it is the school district't responsibility to supply these items.