Parents dig deep for back-to-school supplies
CAPITAL REGION It’s almost time for school, when each student will go through 10 glue sticks, dozens of pencils and hundreds of tissues.
Or so says the school supply lists.
“It’s crazy,” said Schenectady parent Stephanie Kopczynski. “It’s excessive amounts of things.”
She spent $200 on supplies for her two elementary school children. Much of it is for shared supplies — enough pencils, folders and other materials to outfit those students who come to school with nothing.
Schenectady parent Stephanie Kinch said it would be better for everyone if parents just had to buy the few items their child would actually need.
“How do the poor parents buy for everybody in their class?” she said.
But others were delighted to get a printed list to take to the store.
“I think it makes it easier,” said Guilderland parent Sarah Steffensen.
However, she added that she disregards the lists at times.
“Sometimes the teachers put on name-brand pencils. I had to chuckle at that,” she said.
As a parent of older children, she knows the reason behind some mysterious items, including boxes of ziplock bags and stacks of Post-it notes.
The ziplock bags are used to create bags of books to read. The Post-it notes are used to write notes in the books.
“You will see them come back and when you do, you will say, ‘That’s a cool idea! I should be doing that!’ ” she said.
Many teachers also now ask for cleaning supplies, from Clorox wipes to Kleenex. That didn’t win over some parents.
“Last year, I had to buy baby wipes. What the heck?” Kopczynski said.
Kinch was also annoyed when her kindergartner’s list included four dry erase markers.
“It’s not for the kids, it’s for the teachers,” she said, questioning why the teachers didn’t buy the markers themselves.
But she rethought her complaint when she got emergency requests from the teachers midyear. Her children came home with a letter asking for any spare white paper.
“They didn’t have enough to make copies for the children’s homework,” she said. “The kids were copying it [by hand].”
She’s not mad at the teachers. But she said the school district should budget better for such expenses.
“Dry erase markers, white paper — that should be bought by the school,” she said.
Also unpopular are the very specific restrictions imposed by some teachers. Many school lists specified the colors of the students’ folders, saying they should be color-coordinated by subject to help the students learn to organize.
But picking out five plain folders, in prescribed colors, pales in comparison to the glittery folders with superheros and princesses on nearby shelves.
Parents said they had to fight with their children to get them to accept the items their teachers wanted.
Among the common restrictions: no composition notebooks with colored covers, only black and white; specific pencil cases (either hard or soft), with the other type banned in that classroom; and erasers of the pink wedge variety only.
It just makes shopping harder, parents said.
But some lucky parents don’t have to buy anything at all.
Donors have, at times, covered all the school supplies in particular schools, said Schenectady schools spokeswoman Karen Corona. Those parents got a note telling them nothing would be needed for the new school year.