Q: I just got the school supply list for my elementary schooler. I was shocked by how many items are on it. Why is the list so long? Don’t schools supply anything any more?
A: I remember that shocked feeling when I first saw my child’s school supply list, but I also remember feeling equally shocked when, as a teacher, my school-supplied classroom consumables could fit in a single manila envelope.
With all the budget cuts, schools are no longer able to provide some of the basic school supplies. Gone are the days when school supply shopping meant selecting a new pencil case. School supply shopping now involves a full shopping cart!
But, if parents don’t purchase these basic supplies, and schools can no longer provide them, then who will? Teachers. Many times teachers spend nearly their entire first paycheck on purchasing supplies for their students to use during the year.
Yes, the list may be long, but hopefully the list is limited to truly needed supplies.
Here are some considerations to make while shopping for school supplies:
1. Donate: For some families purchasing the items on the list can be a challenge. Many stores have a place were you can donate extra school supplies should you choose to purchase them. In years past we have delivered extra school supplies directly to the school. Someone in the school’s front office will help donations find classrooms/students in need.
2. Delay: Does a teacher really want 30 rolls of paper towels delivered on the first day of school? Where will they all be stored? I usually ask my child’s teacher if she would rather I deliver some of the listed items in January, when supplies are running low.
3. Do the extra: If it is an option, take an extra step. For example, boxes and boxes of unsharpened pencils means, either the teacher spends her planning time sharpening pencils or students spend class time sharpening. Either way it means the loss of instructional time. Do the extra: send the pencils already sharpened.
Sadly, as the school’s budget gets smaller the supply list gets longer. Having families provide more than basic school supplies is not ideal, but neither is having a teacher spend a paycheck on tissues, soap, and pencils. Until budget issues can be worked out: a little support can go a long way.
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