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post #41 of 140
Holy cow. This is the second time this week I have heard about "school fees" for public school! It's supposed to be free! How many kids are not going to school because they can't afford it?

I mean, the supplies lists are silly (recommendations on binders? can we just say "three-ring" and be done with it?) but understandable, kids buy their own consumables.

But when I went to school in Washington, you had to buy your own sports uniforms but that was it. Even AP was covered. Public school ought to be free and it is a shame that people aren't willing to pay taxes to cover it. We always vote "yes" on school funding, every single time.
post #42 of 140
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for sharing. I just wanted to say I really didn't mean for this to turn into the annual vent about school supply lists. I know they crop up here every year about this time, but I was mostly just surprised by the idea that you could charge for things like textbooks, bussing, and kindy in a public school.

As far as public school being free, I guess I was somewhat confusing it with IDEA and the concept that children with special needs are guaranteed a "free and appropriate public education". For some reason in my mind, I must have stretched that to cover every child. Something about the Northwest Ordinance and public education is also coming to mind, but it's been 20 years since I dealt with any sort of "history of American education" so I coudl just be making that part up.
post #43 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
Holy cow. This is the second time this week I have heard about "school fees" for public school! It's supposed to be free! How many kids are not going to school because they can't afford it?

I mean, the supplies lists are silly (recommendations on binders? can we just say "three-ring" and be done with it?) but understandable, kids buy their own consumables.

But when I went to school in Washington, you had to buy your own sports uniforms but that was it. Even AP was covered. Public school ought to be free and it is a shame that people aren't willing to pay taxes to cover it. We always vote "yes" on school funding, every single time.
Public schools are funded in large part by local property taxes, especially now. People generally don't have a choice on whether or not to pay property tax if they own property so I am not sure what you mean by "not willing to pay taxes". Additionally, in most districts the student cost is far more than what each household pays in property taxes. This is particularly true in low income districts, the cost per child is not lower because property tax is lower, more funds are paid from other sources, but the amount being spent per student in equal or a lot of times higher than in higher income districts. In our district, a very high performing district, with very, very high taxes, the cost per student is much lower than what we pay in taxes on average. There is a nearby district that has much lower property taxes, but what they pay per student is several thousand dollars more per year. The cost of everything is going up and federal and state funding is being cut at very rapid rates which cuts into school budgets unfortunately.

In public schools there are no kids not going to school because they can't afford it. There are programs in place for families who can't afford extra fees or supplies. What I don't get is the huge sense of entitlement, if you have to put out a hundred or even two a year for supplies to support your child's education why is that such a big deal? Why should those things come out of the teacher's pocket? Or be solely the responsibility of the PTA to raise the funds?

Maybe its because I live in an exceptional district and I did it on purpose, it was move here or keep him the very expensive Friends school he was in for Pre-k. I have become involved with the district and understand the public school challenges, even in this district.
post #44 of 140
My kids go to (and I am an educator in) a public charter Montessori school in Florida.

School lunch (if you want it) runs about $3 I think (we never use it) and there are plenty of opportunities to get reduced/free lunch if one needs it. We have had students whose parents don't want to fill out the forms, and we've been able to make sure those kids get something to eat, somehow, every day. Mainly because there is usually at least one or two kids who order a lunch and don't get it, or there are extra sandwiches, or whatever.

There is a requested materials fee of $50 per student per year. We don't send out supply lists but each learning environment (classroom) might send out wish lists (balls, pencils, educational board games, etc.)

We do require uniform shirts but we also have a closet full of uniform shirt donations that have been passed along; usually we can find something for every kid.

Field trips cost extra; there are accommodations for hardships in most cases if necessary.


We live in a very mixed socioeconomic area and have a wide spectrum of kids, and also many kids whose parents might be able to squeak by but for whatever circumstances (divorce, etc.) can't afford to pay fees. I think for the most part the kids get what they need.

I have no idea what the regular public schools here do.
post #45 of 140
We are in WA. Students in our district bring their own supplies (those supplies are pooled in the younger grades). I believe this district will pay for 1 or 2 field trips per year--above and beyond that, the parents have to pay, including transportation. If your student wants to do any kind of sports or musical instrument instruction, those are extracurriculars, and you pay for them (they're expensive too, I don't think the SD subsidizes them very much).

Our school relies on the PTSA to pay for the supplies and to gather up volunteer art docents/teachers. The PTSA pays for the school counselor. They also pay for the emergency/disaster supplies. So they do rely on parents being willing to donate beyond the membership fee you pay when you join.

My kids are in a public school, but part of a choice program within that school. We pay $200/yr, which helps supplement our classroom teacher's budgets and gives the teachers a field trip budget (most of our classrooms go on 1 field trip a month) as well as extra enrichment opportunities and supplies--all of that money goes back into the program. I normally donate $200/yr to the PTSA as well, because I feel that it is the right thing to do since I see how much behind the scenes parental financial support is relied upon, and our family is using "general school" resources even though we are self-supporting and cost-neutral to the district at large. Since I have 3 kids, I budget about $75 for school supplies for everyone.

So I pay $475 towards my children's school education per year, about. That's still pretty cheap, compared to the cost of private education, and I certainly get it back in value (except for the school supplies).
post #46 of 140
We don't pay for anything special,just the usual supply lists(we are very low income so we go to the Back to School Celebration for backpacks and school supplies).This year though,they are requiring uniforms.Last year I did all my shopping at yard sales and thrift stores,this year I have to go through the PTA for shirts(stores aren't carrying them) and I have to somehow find uniform pants(no local stores are carrying them,I have to travel).Thankfully my parents are helping me.My ds is autistic and won't wear anything with buttons or zippers,so I'm trying for a waiver for him for the pants.They are supposed to have vouchers available,but I've tried 3 times to get a hold of someone and no one will call me back.I'm trying again on Monday.

Transportation is provided if you live a certain distance away,or if it's in an IEP,like my ds's.I'm in RI,in one of the poorest cities.
post #47 of 140
I teach in Maine and my school doesn't require any kids to buy any supplies. The middle school kids I teach are given a list of suggested supplies. Kids who can't afford them or who never get around to bringing them are usually just given things from the teachers' stash. Each kid is provided with a laptop and parents have to pay $40 into an insurance plan in order for the kid to be allowed to take it home. This is waived if they are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Field trips are paid for by the school, PTF, or grants. I don't think we've ever asked parents to pay anything for field trips--even big overnight ones.
post #48 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by cycle View Post
In public schools there are no kids not going to school because they can't afford it. There are programs in place for families who can't afford extra fees or supplies.
yep. Even homeless children can attend public school.

What the fees really are is a "it really works best if you send your child with XYZ and pay out of pocket for A." But all the kids get to go to school -- even without the fees paid and without supplies.
post #49 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post
I don't mind the supplies costs. Indeed, not only do they not require top-of-the-line stuff, our PTO pre-buys most of it, lays it out in an organized fashion in the gym, and we can buy it there (total cost is ~$5 more than what we'd get at Target). I kinda wish we could bypass a lot of the silly steps: I can't just write the school a check to cover the directory, school supplies, field trips, teacher gifts, etc. I have to go to the gym and collect the supplies and pay for it. Take it home. Take it to the classroom 2 days later (during the day, the week before school starts).
My DD's elementary school worked with a company this year that sold student-supply boxes. At the end of last school year, I could have paid, um, 30 dollars, maybe? and for that amount of money there would be a box with DD's name on it waiting for her in her classroom on the first day of first grade, with all of the required stuff in it. I don't think it was ridiculously overpriced; it seemed pretty comparable to what you'd buy off the shelves, especially since her school specifies brands for things like markers and crayons. If you're interested, I'll see if I can dig up the name of the company putting together the boxes. Next year I definitely plan on buying in!

Our school supply lists are comparable to the others here. There's a bus fee, but only if you live within two miles of the school. We're father than that from all schools in town, so we won't have to pay. Field trips we pay for, and extras like a yearbook and such, but aside from that and the initial school supplies (which go into general circulation; the markers we buy won't necessarily be DD's markers, but will be one of many sets of classroom markers) we aren't expected to buy much.
post #50 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by cycle View Post
People generally don't have a choice on whether or not to pay property tax if they own property so I am not sure what you mean by "not willing to pay taxes".
She means that when people vote on how to allocate taxes or on whether to raise taxes for education, many people vote "no" whereas she always votes "yes." Hence, she is "willing" whereas others aren't.
post #51 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
She means that when people vote on how to allocate taxes or on whether to raise taxes for education, many people vote "no" whereas she always votes "yes." Hence, she is "willing" whereas others aren't.
Thanks, when I went back and read what she wrote that made sense.
post #52 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
Thanks everyone for sharing. I just wanted to say I really didn't mean for this to turn into the annual vent about school supply lists. I know they crop up here every year about this time, but I was mostly just surprised by the idea that you could charge for things like textbooks, bussing, and kindy in a public school.

As far as public school being free, I guess I was somewhat confusing it with IDEA and the concept that children with special needs are guaranteed a "free and appropriate public education". For some reason in my mind, I must have stretched that to cover every child. Something about the Northwest Ordinance and public education is also coming to mind, but it's been 20 years since I dealt with any sort of "history of American education" so I coudl just be making that part up.
ALL kids are entitled to a "Free and appropriate public education." You don't have to pay for anything the school asks you to pay for. You can always get out of it. Sometimes in some schools is more of a pita to get out of it, or to prove you *can't* pay and in some schools it's easy.

For instance many Title I schools and schools is lower socioeconomic areas do not ask for any supplies, or extra fees. Some schools have such a high number of kids entitled to free/reduced lunches that *everyone* gets free lunch.

Schools also do not assume everyone will bring in the supplies/pay the fees they ask, so they are most likely "enlarged" to subsidize those who can't or don't pay. So if you are school and you think you need an extra $10/kid for text books, you ask for $40/kid and figure you'll get 25% participation and still get enough money. Or you ask for supplies and then you pool them or have kids share or know that the school/teacher will be buying supplies for fewer kids.
post #53 of 140
We have an average supplies list, and we also have to pay $300 a month for all day Kindergarten. Half-day is free.
post #54 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by odenata View Post
We have an average supplies list, and we also have to pay $300 a month for all day Kindergarten. Half-day is free.

We also do not have full day Kindergarten but have an extended day kindergarten program that makes it full day. It takes place within the school but it is a separate class and is more play based but sticks with the same themes of the weeks/months as the K class. It costs us $580 a month.
post #55 of 140
Upstate NY.

We pay for school supplies and a few incidentals. By and large, it's not a whole lot, and I think that if parents can't afford it, the school gets the money from the PTA.

If your child takes music lessons, you are expected to buy or rent your own instrument. I think the music dept has a few instruments that have been donated for cases where a child wants to play but can't afford an instrument.

You do have to pay for some extra curriculars, but I don't have a problem with that.
post #56 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
Thanks everyone for sharing. I just wanted to say I really didn't mean for this to turn into the annual vent about school supply lists. I know they crop up here every year about this time, but I was mostly just surprised by the idea that you could charge for things like textbooks, bussing, and kindy in a public school.

As far as public school being free, I guess I was somewhat confusing it with IDEA and the concept that children with special needs are guaranteed a "free and appropriate public education". For some reason in my mind, I must have stretched that to cover every child. Something about the Northwest Ordinance and public education is also coming to mind, but it's been 20 years since I dealt with any sort of "history of American education" so I coudl just be making that part up.
I completely agree with you.

Quote:
People generally don't have a choice on whether or not to pay property tax if they own property
I mean, they vote on levies, not that they have a choice about paying their taxes or not.

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In public schools there are no kids not going to school because they can't afford it.
I'm just guessing you haven't gone door to door to see.

Quote:
There are programs in place for families who can't afford extra fees or supplies.
But do the families always know about them? I know it took my mother years of living in poverty to learn what she was eligible for.

Quote:
What I don't get is the huge sense of entitlement, if you have to put out a hundred or even two a year for supplies to support your child's education why is that such a big deal?
Some people genuinely don't have it, especially in poorer areas of the country. Now, it's hard to imagine that happening on the west coast, but if you think of the slums of Los Angeles... yeah, sorry.

Quote:
Why should those things come out of the teacher's pocket? Or be solely the responsibility of the PTA to raise the funds?
(c) People should pay appropriate property, sales, and income taxes to distribute funds to schools so that we can live in a MERITOCRACY and not an OLIGARCHY.

The rich do not want to pay for the poor, so resent paying thousands in taxes PLUS supplies because they already pay for several kids to go to school. The poor do not want to pay for supplies because for many poorer families, public education is actually the ONLY benefit they get.

It's called "squeezing the middle class into oblivion".

Of course we don't want the teachers to pay for the field trips! Of course we don't think the PTA should be paying for vastly more than extra-curricular activities.

But the tax structure and income division makes this antagonism play out at schools.

I will gladly buy supplies and pay for specific trips. Even fees. However, I disagree with a fee-based system. I think that we should all be willing to pay more in taxes so that we don't have kids falling through the cracks.
post #57 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
But do the families always know about them? I know it took my mother years of living in poverty to learn what she was eligible for.
Our school had a social worker to help with this kind of thing. It's also the reason that so many states require things like dental forms -- to help make sure that all families know about and use the free services available.

Quote:
The rich do not want to pay for the poor, so resent paying thousands in taxes PLUS supplies because they already pay for several kids to go to school.
rubbish.

Most people I know buy MORE school supplies than their kids need and donate them. Churches, Y's, etc all have drop off for backpacks and other things kids need, and these are often organized by people who don't even have school aged kids! I know people who buy for relatives and neighbors who are short on money.

I see so much generosity all the time.
post #58 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post


I'm just guessing you haven't gone door to door to see.
No, I haven't, but if you aren't homeschooling your kids you are required by law to have your kids enrolled in school. Even in the district we live in, that is pretty wealthy (I am not), there are programs in place for families who cannot afford supplies, fees, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post


But do the families always know about them? I know it took my mother years of living in poverty to learn what she was eligible for.
In regards to school, yes, the information is available. In regards to other social services, I am sure this isn't going to be a popular opinion but you have to seek out the services, they won't come to you, its really not hard to find services for families.
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
Some people genuinely don't have it, especially in poorer areas of the country. Now, it's hard to imagine that happening on the west coast, but if you think of the slums of Los Angeles... yeah, sorry.
I know, and there are services available to make sure they have what they need for school. Free breakfast at school, free lunch, supplies and backpacks, and families that can't afford it would never be expected to bring supplies or pay fees.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
The rich do not want to pay for the poor, so resent paying thousands in taxes PLUS supplies because they already pay for several kids to go to school. The poor do not want to pay for supplies because for many poorer families, public education is actually the ONLY benefit they get.
This is garbage and offensive and entirely not true.
post #59 of 140
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
What the fees really are is a "it really works best if you send your child with XYZ and pay out of pocket for A." But all the kids get to go to school -- even without the fees paid and without supplies.
I guess this is part of what I had a question about. My friend mentioned receiving a collections letter because she couldn't/hadn't paid the fees. And I guess my question/concern is, there are lots of working-class poor in America who maybe don't qualify for monetary help but still can't really afford all the public school fees. So what happens to them/
post #60 of 140
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone_kneegrabber View Post
ALL kids are entitled to a "Free and appropriate public education." You don't have to pay for anything the school asks you to pay for. You can always get out of it. Sometimes in some schools is more of a pita to get out of it, or to prove you *can't* pay and in some schools it's easy.
Do you have an actual citation for the law though? Because I've been searching (granted just online) and while I'm finding lots of people making noise about how public schools should be free, but no one ever cites actual law. On the contrary, I've found that several states spell out exactly what can and cannot have a charge attached, and other states seem to leave it to individual school boards.

Quote:
For instance many Title I schools and schools is lower socioeconomic areas do not ask for any supplies, or extra fees. Some schools have such a high number of kids entitled to free/reduced lunches that *everyone* gets free lunch.
I'm pretty sure my kid was in a Title I school-- that's the special reading program, right? I know they had a reading specialist and some neat parent/child nights that were literacy based.
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