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My Kids' School Supplies Cost a Fortune!

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Guest Blogger Alice: Every year, the school-supply list gets longer and longer. When will it ever end?


When I got my two elementary-agekids' school-supplylist this year, I couldn't believe it. It was a mile long!

I know that states are making budget cuts, and I also know that I am lucky I am able to send my kids to public school. But the things they ask you to buy on this school-supply list is ridiculous!

Forget pencils and notebooks: Now they have you buying Glade Plug-In refills, reams of copier paper, boxes of Kleenex and even antibacterial soap.

I am NOT suggesting that teachers pay for this stuff out of their own pockets ... but can't our tax dollars pay for some of it?

The grand total for my kids' school supplies: a whopping $186, or $93 per kid. What about the parents who can't afford that?

Did your kids' school supplies cost a small fortune? Tell us about it!

next: Parents: Preschool's Biggest Problem
29 comments so far | Post a comment now
Samantha August 22, 2010, 7:54 AM

I live in Utah where they can only ask for donations for school supplies. Of course we always donate, but its hard me to buy all of the cleaning supplies, tissues, etc when I see them spending extra money on decorations for the school or microphones and speakers for the classroom so teachers don’t have to raise their voices even a little bit. I think schools need to prioritize what they are spending money on. The money spent on that pretty new bench outside could have been spent on paper towels or books. Grrrrr

Robin August 22, 2010, 9:03 AM

My SIL has 3 boys in school. That equals 9 boxes of tissues and 6 boxes of antibacterial wipes on top of folders pencils etc. They also require a specific BRAND of notebooks. Not just college rule spiral notebooks. They have to be 70 count, college rule, no tear out Mead notebooks. My kindergarten child needs 8 glue stick (of a specific size), 6 boxes of crayons (8 count, not large), Highlighters (yellow and green), Low odor dry erase markers (no red or yellow), etc… it’s ridiculous.

c.ambrosio August 22, 2010, 11:49 AM

Our district has a “suggested supply” list. It is not mandatory as the district is required to provide supplies to the children for their education. I do buy them (the ones needed for learning; but I will not buy the ones like tissue or the other things that are outlandish. My boys do carry hand sanitizer on a regular basis so that is covered but I will not send it in with the school supplies because it is pooled for the classroom and I cannot afford to be buying for the whole class when it is not even used for my child.

I am one of the parents that can barely pay my household bills so I came up with a cheaper solution this year for school supplies. Our PTSA has a school store. I bought my sons supplies from there this year and what would have cost me over a hundred dollars at the big super stores that are supposed to be cheap per say, only cost me $10 and I only had to buy a few things elsewhere.

Anonymous August 22, 2010, 1:41 PM

I’m a teacher. Yes they can’t make you buy those supplies because schools are public. However, it’s sad but true that the budget for supplies is not very good. I buy my own soap, pencil sharpener, paper to run copies for tests, notebook paper for the kids, expo markers, materials for science experiments, construction paper, tape, glue,bookshelves,and more. I’ve been at it for twenty years and the average teacher spends between $400-$3000 a year on supplies depending on the school. If you have a good PTA it can help a little but like the above poster said, sometimes they will buy you what they want rather than paper towels or some other obvious need.
And yeah, without those microphones, due to the conditions of most schools having mold and air quality problems, after talking constantly for a week or two straight, many of us get laryngitis. It’s either pay for the microphones (a one time cost) or pay for the subs when the teacher can’t talk (a huge expense). Most teachers after ten years have nodules on their voice box anyway- hazard of the trade. It’s a sad reality that so much money has to be spent by parents and teachers alike but I doubt this problem will go away anytime soon.

Mary August 22, 2010, 9:41 PM

Our school district does not require any specific colors/brands etc when it comes to supplies. Donations of hand sanitizer & Kleenex are requested but not required once, no one is harassed.

I think if a school wants to dictate what color and/or brand a student must have, then that school should supply the item. I’m not going to stress over chasing down some list then hunting down every item on it because other parents have hoarded the items once they found it.

Kelly August 23, 2010, 9:14 AM

I am a mother of 4, 2 of them are in school. We have lived in many states, and some have a small list, some have no list at all and supply everything, and (where we are now) have lists that include the rest of the class. I asked why my 3rd grader needs 4 boxes of crayons and 8 glue sticks, and 4 boxes of pencils and on and on, not including all the cleaning and hygiene supplies. The answer is so everyone in the class will have them. It is very expensive and something we can do at this time, but it will be very difficult once all four are in school. It is my responsibility to make sure my children have what they need, absolutely, but I shouldn’t be made to provide supplies to other children. We always help when we can, but it shouldn’t be on the supply list as mandatory.

Maria August 24, 2010, 5:47 AM

Yeah…feel ya ….5 kiddos, 4 in school this year Walmart JUST school supplies the total was $506.24…not counting clothes and shoes….which we wen to the mall and had various receipts but I am guessing $1200 bucks there!! EEK

Mary August 30, 2010, 8:08 PM

My sister & I were talking about this the other night, she said the only thing she ever remembers being required to buy was a scientific calculator for my nephew. This is understandable.

What I don’t understand is why parents just accept the fact that they should spend $500 on school supplies. How about getting a group of parents together and going to school board meetings? You voted these people in, they work for you. The more you willingly fork over for supplies, the more you’ll be asked for next year.

Think about it. Will your child really learn more by having a specific brand of highlighter? Do elementary kids even need highlighters? Do they even know where any of this stuff is halfway through the school year?

Berenice October 12, 2010, 2:12 PM

I am as shocked as you are with the supply lists i get from school. Iti si sometime ridiculous, I remember the times when it was all notebooks, some text books, pencils, pens, color pencils, and a sketch book for art class. Now they seem to want us to Buy Viagra for the principal as well.

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