Parents Sound Off About School Supply Purchases

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We asked you, our faithful readers, the following question on Facebook and Twitter: 

How do you feel about the amount of school supplies many schools ask parents to buy for their children, and about how much do you typically spend per child?

Here are your answers. Feel free to share this article and comment on it below to keep the conversation going.

Mostly ridiculous. 5+ boxes of crayons? Lists socialize supplies for those who don't bring them in.
— Brian Hammill

I don't know how much it adds up to over the year per child, however, my view is that although it is very nice to have low property taxes, buying school supplies is the price we pay. One way or the other, the budget for supplies needs to come from somewhere. Our school ran out of paper before the end of the school year. It's sad that they have to send out a plea to parents to please send in reams to finish out the year.
— Laura Sokol-Meade

I'm a teacher and we just don't get $ to supply supplies (or it comes out of MY pocket). So we have a list that we do per grade level. It goes home in the report cards at the end of the year. Over the summer the lists go on the school website. And I'm a mom, so I get both sides of this issue. I look for sales at Wal-Mart, Target and Staples. It's about $20 per kid plus the price of a bookbag & lunch box so about $50. Copies = we/teacher only get a certain amount.
— Deborah Jones Bowen

I thought the lottery was supposed to be pumping money into the education system. Clearly it is not paying for any classroom supplies. I just spent over $50 for my first-grader.
— Summer Ammann

For first grade the expectation is that the teacher doesn't send homework papers anymore. We parents have to visit the teacher's website and print out each homework assignment to "save paper." (How does that save paper???) Plus, that's on top of $120 in school-supplies_002.jpgsupplies that were referenced above. Again, this is first grade. My kid is 6 … Gotta' say, not that impressed with how this is going.

— Chandra Green
I have no problem spending money on school supplies. I don't mind donating extra for kids that might not have what they need. But I get so mad every year at the long list of items on the list that I obediently buy that don't get used!! Nine notebooks, yep I bought them … even though my child used only one. Five composition books — used two.
— Tina Craft

We just spent $115 for a year-round middle school student. We don't get any sales late July or early August because we've already been in school for a month by then. It's sad when schools can't provide tissues and paper products.
— Tricia Gatte Andrews

We're with Tricia — $100+ for our sixth-grader in year-round school. Her team of teachers asked for separate five-subject notebooks for each class, which cost $7 each for a total of $28. It is a major waste, because they end up stapling notes into the pages. We are fortunate that this does not present a hardship for us, but I really feel for parents who have to dip into their budgets to pay for supplies.
— Karen Lewis Taylor

I am more than happy to supply what I can for the school but I do feel for those who cannot afford the brand-specific lists. Not including the book bag and lunch bag, my required school supplies cost $65 for my kindergartener. I also plan on purchasing items on the wish list, which will cost more.
— Mrugesh and Rebecca Patel

Small price to pay for good public schools!
— Andria Kuzeff Rosell

I used to dread these lists especially when we ourselves were cash-strapped. Its like the schools thought everyone lived in Preston and could spend hundreds of dollars on wipes, tissues, calculators, crayons (EVERY YEAR!), colored pencils, pencil boxes, Post-its, clear plastic sheet protectors.. It got ridiculous. Finally by Middle school they eased off.
— Lindsey Chester

I will buy whatever is on the list for my kids to have what they need, and I'm generous to the teacher's wish list items as well. It irritates me when the list asks for specific items or brands… And I purchase those items for my kids… Only to see them using dollar store crap that someone else bought because it all goes into community supplies for the whole class. For example, buying the plastic folders that were requested, for my daughter to end up using cheap paper folders that fall apart easily. Or when I purchase crayola, only for my kids to be stuck with the asbestos crayons at their table. It is very frustrating.
— Marsha Hoogsteen

I don't mind buying school supplies but I despised it in elementary school when items like glue sticks were put in a "community box."
— Candy Wilhelm Distel

Part of the problem with the younger grades is those kids have no idea how to conserve what they have. I've volunteered in the classroom and watched kids grab a tissue, swipe at their nose and toss it. Then grab another. And don't get me started on the glue sticks. I only wish the lists to be out early so I can buy on sale or in bulk. I'm still using folders and notebooks I bought two years ago. The classics never go off the list.
— Gina Caldanaro

This is why I always buy extra when it is on sale. Then pull it out through the year as needed.
— Heather Hatt

Editor's note: We may add additional comments as we receive them.

Updated July 21, 2015.

Categories: Early Education, Education, Finance, Money, School Kids