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School supplies?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Our school district sends home a ridiculous list of school supplies every year (at least $100 per kid plus $100 graphing calculator for middle school taking geometry!!!)


Every year my kids bring home their leftover odds and ends school supplies and I always recycle scissors, rulers, folders in good shape, etc. for the next year. However, this year I really went to the next level to try to make up some of the cost of the calculator. I rubber banded all of the pencils that were in good shape into groups of 24 rather than buying new pencils and dug through our art supplies to come up with sets of colored pencils (we have accumulated a bunch of supplies over the years).  Likewise, I didn't give them new highlighters or big pink erasers AND I even just ripped some pages out of notebooks that were hardly used.



Has anyone else sent in supplies that had clearly already been used? I am wondering if the school will say anything?

Edited by wildmonkeys - 8/8/13 at 2:23pm
post #2 of 29

I think that sounds fine with the possible exception of the ripped out paper. Is that to replace loose leaf? 

post #3 of 29

Of course! I dont think school supplies need to be new each year. What ever hasnt been used the year before should get used the next year.  My son is entering middle school and that calculator is on his list too. They suggested one calculator approx 35 dollars or another one that would be useful for highschool as well, for 100 dollars.


Often my son finishes the school year with a bunch of notebooks that he has only used a dozen or so pages in it.  I rip out the used pages and give the book back to him to continue to use.


I do purchase some new things that he needs... pens, highlighter.

post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 

No, I am going to buy loose leaf.  I did the same as Sara and ripped the used pages out of notebooks that had hardly been used.


Sara, can you send me the name of the $35 calculator? Maybe I can put off the expensive calculator and have the middle school one to pass down to his brothers when I upgrade him. I would like him to be a bit more responsible before something that expensive is in his backpack :)


I was worried about the colored pencils and the used erasers (though any new eraser will look as used as these in a week...)

Edited by wildmonkeys - 8/8/13 at 2:32pm
post #5 of 29

"Calculator for math

TI-34, TI-30II ($13-$20),

TI-84 (graphing will also be used in high school $100)"


When I first read the above, copied from his list, I understood it as I can get the Ti34 or T1-3011 for 15-20 or if I want I can get the TI-84 for more, but that it would also be used in Highschool ... Im undecided which one I will get (I havent done any back to school stuff yet,  I like to get the teachers input - often the list is sometimes different then what the teacher wants)


Used erasers and pencils...are ok. My son has only lost erasers he has never used one up completely, so they just remain in his pencil case year after year until they are lots or used up. Incidentally, his list also says 12 coloured pencil crayons...I will be taking from our pencil box at home, some will be shorter then others. :)

post #6 of 29
I am so thankful we don't have to supply school supplies. The district supplies everything up until high school. Your idea sounds fine though.
post #7 of 29

I recycled supplies this year, too, for both my 8th grader and my 2nd and 5th graders. Every year I spend $200 on supplies for all 3 kids- including Master locks for lockers for the mid-schooler, special art sketch pads for art class, etc. Last year the TI calculator that she needed was $150. Her school (charter school that goes from 6-12) assured me that it was going to be used through high school- so it was even higher. My elementary school kids attend a Title 1 school and there are many families who simply cannot purchase $50-$75 worth of supplies *per child*, so I figure that sending in recycled but still perfectly usable stuff is acceptable. Granted, if the stuff was more than very gently used, I replaced it, but rulers, compasses, scissors, pencil cases, etc? I would never dream of buying new ones for home use just because it was a new school year- why buy all new stuff just because they are taking it to school? Much smaller environmental footprint this way, too.

post #8 of 29

Like KayleeZoo, my kids attend a Title 1 school.  The teachers are thrilled that students bring ANY supplies so bringing in used stuff is perfectly acceptable.  On the last day of school when the kids empty out their desks I go through all the supplies and decide what still has value and keep it.  I do buy multiples of things when they go on sale so that my kids start with a mix of new and old things.  Anything with life left in it is not discarded.  During the year I try to get things as the teacher requests them but I do NOT provide a year's worth of supplies up front for the entire class like their list suggests.  They request things like 8 glue sticks, 3 packs of colored pencils, etc.  My kids will get one of each item and the rest goes into a big box along with everyone else's stuff to be doled out as needed.  They aren't name labeled.  My kid won't get all 8 of her glue sticks as she needs them.  The teacher will also request more throughout the year to make up for the kids that can't afford supplies.  I'm NOT in a financial position to provide for those kids plus my own 3 in school.  So I buy what I can afford, at least one of each item, and send them in as my kids need them.  They always have what they need but nothing extra.  We buy backpacks that are quality and spend more up front so they can use them for many years instead of a cheaper backpack that will rip in a few months' time.  I save up for these over the year and don't re-buy unless something is broken.  They don't get a new backpack every year when their previous years' bag is perfectly usable.

post #9 of 29

justmama, it irks me to no end that teachers request a whole years' worth of supplies up front and then dump them all in community bins. Especially after I spoke with a teacher at my kids' elem. school and found out that we are asked to send so much to help cover the supplies that some kids intentionally destroy- are you KIDDING me? My kids would never break pencils or crayons on purpose, dump glue all over just to make a mess, etc. I won't provide extra supplies for the kids who do. I let the teachers know at the beginning of the year that I will happily send anything that my child needs- but I won't provide for the whole class and I won't provide extras for destructive kids. We are in a much better financial situation than 95% of my kids' classmates, but I don't feel that it's our responsibility to pony up for school supplies for the whole class. We have 4 kids to take care of, and we make sure they all have what they need. The teachers can't say much when you tell them that you will not provide supplies for other kids and that you will NOT send extras to be dumped into the community pile. They cannot force anyone to do that. But they will try to make it happen. Unfortunately, the teachers wind up buying a LOT of stuff that parents are responsible for. And I can't see a way around that, as long as some people flat out don't send what their own kids need...

post #10 of 29

As a teacher at a Title 1 school, the supply thing is a BIG issue.  Generally what has happened at my school is a list gets sent home (and no, I had no say in the list) and then kids bring in a bunch of random stuff that wasn't on the list.  This year we are trying something new and I'm hoping it works out well...we're having each kid give a $20 supply fee at the beginning of the year and then as a grade level, we (teachers) are going out and buying what we actually need and will use.  I'm excited to do it this way since we've ended up with a lot of unused supplies in the past and have had to pay out of pocket for supplies that we do need.  It's pretty ridiculous actually how much I spend out of pocket every year for classroom materials.  I will get to utilize buying in bulk, which I think will save a lot of money in the long run.  


From a parent standpoint, my kids have a fairly extensive list, but I don't think it's over the top.  The list specifies what their teachers want labeled with their names and what will go toward general classroom supplies.  We'll go through things we have at home before going out shopping this weekend, but I think most of what is on those lists will need to be bought new.

post #11 of 29

honeybee, as the child of a teacher I understand completely where you are coming from.  My mom worked 30 years in a very poor district and I know the long hours in the summer setting up and breaking down a classroom and all the personal money that goes into buying supplies for the classroom and the hours spent making presents for the kids at Christmas and such.  I have helped my mother since I was a very small child and I have gone without in my childhood so that her students could have the supplies they needed.  But like KayleeZoo says, I don't think there's much of a way around that since some parents refuse to get what their child needs, knowing that the school/teacher will provide.  All I can do with my financials the way they are is provide everything my children need and maybe a box of pencils or antibacterial wipes here and there throughout the year.  I think it's just a crappy situation unfortunately.  

post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 

When I read these posts I get frustrated with all of the waste at our school. Not only do we send in about $100 worth of supplies per kid but the PTA gives each teacher several hundred dollars for supplies and we have several mid year "supply drives" where the teachers send out a list of what they are low on and get restocked. I have asked teachers in our school and they have said they don't spend any money out of pocket on supplies which is GREAT! The downside is the waste. For instance, last year my 4th grader was asked to bring in 10 marble composition notebooks. Three or four were were really used whereas about half came home with less than a dozen pages written on.  This year my first grader is asked to send in 15 large glue sticks and I guarantee we will get a note mid year asking to restock glue sticks. I bet we only have a very small handful of kids who don't bring supplies (probably one or two a classroom) so I am not sure why they need so MUCH of everything. My guess is that I end up spending about $150 per year per kid which  along with the PTA money teachers are given is about $3300 in supplies per classroom of 22 kids....doesn't that seem high?


Justmama - we also use backpacks and lunch boxes for years and years...it has never even occurred to me to replace those each year!

post #13 of 29

wildmonkeys, it didn't occur to me to replace them every year either  until speaking with several parents over the years(my oldest is 13).  It seemed every year they would replace lunch boxes and backpacks as part of the back to school shopping list, along with also getting their children their fall wardrobes at that time.  I was surprised but apparently it's done to get the kids excited about school.




Your total doesn't sound high to me if we are talking about bulletin board supplies and updating the teachers' own personal stocks of seat work papers and text books and chapter books and such.  Those things typically come out of a teacher's own pocket so having the PTA pay for that would greatly alleviate that cost.  Bulletin board supplies and classroom wall hanging items aren't cheap.  A 5 minute walk through a teacher's supply store will tell you that.  If you also live in a district where teachers are not given things like scrap paper or allowed to run off their dittos for free in the school, I could also see why they are given so much money from the PTA.  There are lots of hidden costs of being a teacher.

post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 

Oh, I know how expensive all that stuff is. My dad, brother, and sil are all teachers so I think it is great that the PTA gives the teachers in our community money.  The PTA also gives new teachers a one time classroom set-up "award" of $500 to buy bulletin board decorations and whatnot. We also do a book drive funraiser to provide chapter books and what not for the classroom. I think this is all great! 


Our school district provides work sheets, books, decorative paper to cover bulletin boards, dittos, etc. etc. Honestly, our PTA raised money for African Drums ($8500) when the music teacher wanted them and a climbing wall ($$$) when the PE teachers wanted one.  My friends who teach here do not NEED to spend their own money on anything in the classroom and I am glad about that...I am just frustrated with wastefulness of actual supplies. I don't want to buy 5 notes books that only have a few pages written in because they need a different notebook for each subject - I would rather buy a 5 section notebook. That kind of thing.


We moved here for the school system and though I am thrilled with our decision we are stretched VERY tight to live here and I sometimes get frustrated with the assumption that everyone is affluent. This year I was my son's room mom and when I collected money for the holiday gift - I collected $800. Based on these bits of information, I don't think it ever occurs to anyone inside the school that spending $100 on school supplies is stretch for some families.

post #15 of 29
The other thing to keep in mind is that if you really are struggling financially and you go to the school, I'm sure they have some kind of program to help families that are in need. If the front office doesn't have info or doesn't know, the counselor or social worker should.

I also hear all of you on the waste and it's challenging. I'm a ridiculously green person (I am the type who recycles the holes from hole punchers wink1.gif), but I struggle to keep my classroom as green as it could be.
post #16 of 29

The school here send out a list every year in April.  Along with an order form.  Everything can be ordered from a school supply company and most kids will be using the same stuff/brands.  We did that for a couple years and have so much leftover supplies I stopped ordering them.  Now I sort through their unused (little used) stuff and buy only what they need.  Went from spending $100 each kid on school supplies to about $40 each.  I think the brands I gave them are better, too.  


The funny thing is one of my boys is naturally thrifty.  He actually uses each pencil down to a little stub, and will pick up pencil stubs and broken erasers other people discarded and use them.  I tried to talk him out of it but he just wouldn't listen. (Some of the stuff he picked up are pretty yucky.)  He said if he doesn't pick them up they would be wasted, and he's the only person he knows to pick them up.  I don't think he'll allow me to waste any school supplies. :D

Edited by Poddi - 8/14/13 at 12:31am
post #17 of 29

I sub so I'm pretty much in a different class room/school every day.  I can get anywhere from 5-20 left behind pens/pencils by the end of the day (i teach 6-12th grades).  Yes I'm the odd teacher or maybe not, who picks those things up and puts them on the teachers desk.  I see about 100 kids a day... so 20% of them are loosing things DAILY...  Pencils, markers, pencils, crayons etc.  If teachers cleaned the floor, or had the kids take 2 minutes and cleaned the floor before changing classes there could be a whole bucket of 'lost writing items' for those kids who claim they 'dont have a pencil miss jones!!!!'

I also can tell you I've been books left behind, scholastic type books, 


It seems like no one cares... the bell rings and poof... its time to go... 



For those of you wondering what calculator to get... My kiddo took geometry last year and needed the graphing one.  I spent about $80 at Staples after rebates, sales and coupons for ours.  It has a USB cable, and does some other high tech stuff.  

post #18 of 29

If there are any teachers reading this........check with your local Staples about a Teacher Appreciation Day coming up.......(and other office stores)........for MOMS, also check with Staples .....this week they have spiral note books for ONE CENT......yes the limit is two and you have to buy $5 worth of stuff, but you can have your 'kids' each make a purchase. AND...you can also buy a special coupon savings pass at Staples........it cost ten dollars and on every qualifying purchase until Sept? you save 15%..........


I'm both.....a Mom and a Teacher............yes, it stinks that I buy nice folders for my kids and they go in the community bin............and it also stinks that kids can't do work bc they don't have a pencil or a notebook..............I think it's a no win coming from both sides.............


I also think a school can't force you to buy a $100 calculator............our school supplies calculators for the classes........(but they also disappear with the kids too)


Good Luck

post #19 of 29

My 8th grader's teacher told them to buy a TI-84 Plus Silver Edition, specifically. The cheapest I've seen it is $130. Last year's and this year's math teachers have told them that it's very important that everyone has the exact same model. No mention was made of the school providing one for class use if someone couldn't afford to buy one. It's a charter school, so we don't pay tuition- it's not like they can assume that everyone can afford a $130 calculator. I just hope DD doesn't lose hers.

post #20 of 29
Originally Posted by KayleeZoo View Post

My 8th grader's teacher told them to buy a TI-84 Plus Silver Edition, specifically. The cheapest I've seen it is $130. Last year's and this year's math teachers have told them that it's very important that everyone has the exact same model. No mention was made of the school providing one for class use if someone couldn't afford to buy one. It's a charter school, so we don't pay tuition- it's not like they can assume that everyone can afford a $130 calculator. I just hope DD doesn't lose hers.


My DD got the same one in 6th grade.  Just wanted to mention that many police stations will engrave calculators (and other expensive items) for free.  I haven't had it done, but I've read it. 

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