Paying for things at public schools - Mothering Forums
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Learning at School > Paying for things at public schools
PajamaMama's Avatar PajamaMama 10:01 AM 08-12-2006
The thread about the lost book got me thinking...why the heck do I have to send so much money to my kid's school?!?

This is my daughter's first year back to public school after a few years of homeschooling. She is entering 6th grade at the middle school.

We went to her open house yesterday and in addition to the $50 or so worth of notebooks, graph paper, etc, we are expected to provide the following:\

3 boxes of Kleenex
$5 'locker rental fee' (the kids have lockers in the hallway at this school)
$15 'supply' fee
$20 for a gym uniform
$30 lunch money for the first month of school if the kid eats school lunch

So I am supposed to send her to school Monday with $70 or 4 seperate checks!

Our real estate taxes exceeded $5000 last year. We pay $600 a month into an escrow account to cover our taxes and insurance. Not to mention, the 5 figure income tax we paid to Uncle Sam...

I think that it's ridiculous, the things that our government is willing to spend our taxes on, and then make citizens do things like buy their own crayons and have to send Kleenex to school. And 'locker rental fee'? wtf?!?

OK, that's the end of my rant. I am spending far less than I was for homeschool supplies, that's the truth. I am still : that I have to lay out all this cash.

MsElle07's Avatar MsElle07 10:08 AM 08-12-2006
Sorry you're upset. The fact that you pay money in property taxes does not mean that all of that money is going to your daughter's school.

Schools don't have money for supplies in large part because of the cost of running a school building. (For example, the large high school I used to work at, which was part of the Green School initiative, so we tried to conserve energy, cost close to $8 million a year to run.) That's for teacher/administrator/building service salaries, electricity, water, heating/AC, repairs, books, etc. And that's for one school.

Today, districts spend a huge chunk of their budgets on special education services, because they are federally mandated to do so. They have to retain a bevy of teachers and specialists (like speech therapists, psychologists, etc), and have to pay dearly for in-house legal counsel to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and to defend them against lawsuits.

I have also taught in a school in a middle class West Coast neighborhood that had no toilet paper or soap in the bathrooms, no hot water anywhere in the school, and no useable textbooks. (A water main break had flooded the book room and they had no money to buy more.) They were forced to make repairs to the school that met earthquake code, and couldn't afford extras. Teachers pooled together to bring in TP. Kids carried TP in their backpacks.

So, while it's possible that some school districts are wasteful with their money due to poor management, most truly struggle to make ends meet while providing children with services.

They also generally offer grants for families who can't afford things like locker fees.
PajamaMama's Avatar PajamaMama 02:56 AM 08-13-2006
I don't mean to imply that the SCHOOL or TEACHERS are wasteful with money. I am just peeved that so little of tax money that we all pay goes towards education... When there is plenty of money to fund wars and idiotic punitive prisons and on and on.

There are public school teachers among our friends and family and I know how much of their own money they end up spending on their students and classrooms. It's shameful especially considering what kind of (low) salary they earn for their education investment of 4, 6, or more years of college.
Sharlla's Avatar Sharlla 02:59 AM 08-13-2006
I remember when I was in school parents never had to pay for anything other than hot lunches and personal school supplies that was on a list. It's insane how much parents have to dish out now, what happens if the family is low income and they can't afford the extras?
PajamaMama's Avatar PajamaMama 03:24 AM 08-13-2006
At my daughter's middle school there were at least old used gym uniforms that you could fill out an application to borrow for the school year if you could not afford $20 for a new one. BUT...I noticed that the new ones had print of the school mascot in an aqua color on gray, and the used ones were more of a royal blue on grey. Subtle to the casual observer...but probably painfully obvious to the kids who have the used uniforms

We ordered a new one. I want my dd's transition back to public school to be as painless as I can make it.

And, Sharlla, I too remember the days of showing up at school with nothing but some lunch money and a couple of special new pencils with my name on them or something. Of course I am looking at my high school reunion coming up now...times change :
PajamaMama's Avatar PajamaMama 03:32 AM 08-13-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsElle07
Sorry you're upset. The fact that you pay money in property taxes does not mean that all of that money is going to your daughter's school.
Am I the only one who thought this 'sorry' sounded more like a 'too damn bad' than an actual expression of sympathy? I feel like it was very condescending. I know all too well what a small percentage of my property tax goes to the school my daughter is going to attend.
CarrieMF's Avatar CarrieMF 03:36 AM 08-13-2006
There are things I won't buy like Kleenex, I made my dd's hankies and they take them.

The 6 of us here don't go through 2 boxes of kleenex(what they wanted my dd in grade 3 to send) in a year much less my 1 child.

We never had school uniforms when i was a child and they don't now. We wore shorts and a t-shirt. For school sports we didn't have to pay for the uniforms, they were handed in at the end of the season. In 1991 our school had the funds to buy the basketball team new uniforms, we were quite happy to get rid of the ones from the 60's/70's.lol

We never had hot lunches unless it was something special and then it was once every 1-2 months, same with my dd's school here and they do it fairly cheap $1-2. The money goes to the parent group which buys alot of things for the school.

Quote:
$5 'locker rental fee'
THis is just silly, I am guessing it is mandatory that they have lockers too.

We have a $20 fee at the beginning of school, part(probably half to 3/4) of that goes towards their agendas.
alsoSarah's Avatar alsoSarah 03:47 AM 08-13-2006
I hear you.

Ds' teacher sent a long list of things that every student is required to bring for the classroom, in addition to the regular school supplies that I remember bringing as a kid (eg: box of baby wipes, a dispenser of hand sanitizer, kleenex, the list goes on....).

alsoSarah
lisalou's Avatar lisalou 10:43 AM 08-13-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by PajamaMama
Am I the only one who thought this 'sorry' sounded more like a 'too damn bad' than an actual expression of sympathy? I feel like it was very condescending. I know all too well what a small percentage of my property tax goes to the school my daughter is going to attend.
I think she meant Sorry, of your $5K probably less than half of that goes to the school system. So to complain about your overall property taxes and schools in the same sentence isn't exactly fair. I don't think it was meant to be condenscending. And the rest of your property taxes probably don't leave the state, in fact they probably dont' leave your community.

I think I'm a little touchy on the subject myself b/c dh is a teacher. The original person who said sorry and myself have seen probably and/or actually gone through school board meetings where people demand that budgets be slashed b/c only 30 kids are taking chorus, so who needs chorus? At my dh's high school b/c of budget cuts there are not enough classes to keep seniors in school the whole day. Parent's don't care b/c they consider school just babysitting until their kids can start working. But god forbid they cut the football or hockey program. In another school district around here when teachers went on strike parents didn't care b/c they were reassured there would be no change to the sports schedule another strike got acrimonious b/c teachers/coaches refused to coach during their strike.

So when it comes down to charging you $15 for supplies or cutting a teacher, I hope you understand and you seem to, that most school districts would prefer to charge for supplies. I'd personally prefer it if people in general looked at what it actually does cost to live in society. To maintain roadways, public buildings, snow removal, schools etc. and be more willing to pay that cost. It's not that I think taxes should be sky high but I'd realy like to see a town stop plowing a few streets during the winter of those who say, "I don't want to pay for that" during budget time. So maybe they would realize more we're all in this together to build a future for our community and children.
MsElle07's Avatar MsElle07 12:01 PM 08-13-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by PajamaMama
Am I the only one who thought this 'sorry' sounded more like a 'too damn bad' than an actual expression of sympathy? I feel like it was very condescending. I know all too well what a small percentage of my property tax goes to the school my daughter is going to attend.
If I meant too damn bad, I would have said too damn bad. What I said and meant was, "I'm sorry you're upset."

You said this:
Quote:
Our real estate taxes exceeded $5000 last year. We pay $600 a month into an escrow account to cover our taxes and insurance. Not to mention, the 5 figure income tax we paid to Uncle Sam...
And made it sound like all that money you're paying should be going for things like Kleenex at your daughter's school. That's not really how it works. To include how much you pay in property taxes and how much you're paying for supplies unfairly correlates the two.
MsElle07's Avatar MsElle07 12:04 PM 08-13-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharlla
I remember when I was in school parents never had to pay for anything other than hot lunches and personal school supplies that was on a list. It's insane how much parents have to dish out now, what happens if the family is low income and they can't afford the extras?
Every district makes accommodations for this. I have never known a family who couldn't afford something who was told no by the school. Part of the reason they ask people to bring things in is because they have to make accommodations for the very low income who truly can't afford it.
bobandjess99's Avatar bobandjess99 11:42 PM 08-13-2006
We pay over $150 per year for books, and that is the "reduced" fee for the kids who qualify for free lunch..the regular kids pay over twice that. For ELEMENTARY school books!!!!

Like Carrie Mf said, if we don't feel something is necesary, we don't get it.
For example, when the now-9-yr old was in K, his teacher (a first year out of school, seriously germaphobic young lady) wanted all the kids to bring in bottles of the HORRID, so bad for you im not even going to rant about it on here, since you guys all know!!!! waterless hand disinfectant stuff.
We sent in a nice note instead, stating that not only were we not sending it, but that is was truly not a good thing to be using, and that she was free to ask N to wash his hands several times during the day, as she felt appropriate.
PDean's Avatar PDean 07:25 AM 08-14-2006
In addition to being asked to supply the types of items mentioned, we are also buying uniforms to attend public school. I am fine with the uniforms, yet the principal changes the rules each year, if not each semester.
Her new rule for this year? The children must wear a uniform colored winter coat if they wear it during the day, to recess or to the trailers to change class. I think that is overboard. It does not matter what color the children's coats are. We change schools mid year due to a new school being built, and half of the children will move, to the new school, where parents voted NO to uniforms. So I must buy a wintercoat to suit this principal for one semester.....crazy. Of course, punishments were added to the list for breaking her new rules. I can afford a new coat, finding one will be another problem. It must be solid navy, green. white, or khaki, with no stripes or logos. The uniform vendor has none listed online.
Thoughts...do any of your schools get this specific with uniforms? I went to 12 years of Catholic schools with the Dominican nuns, and never had it like this.
Peggy
MCatLvrMom2A&X's Avatar MCatLvrMom2A&X 07:37 AM 08-14-2006
Wow that is awfull having to pay that much. Here they do need school supplies like paper and pencil but a locker Fee!?!?!?! no way. Gym uniform : Books are provided for free as well. Only charge happens if they loose it.

We do pay for food but on a slidding scale based on income.


My dd has to bring in a box of klenex personally i think that is so silly i mean why cant they use toilet paper just like i did when i had to blow my nose. : They also need a bottle of antibacterial hand soap and they will use them one at a time thru the year. Every child uses from the same bottle till it is empty and so on same with the klenex and roll of paper towels.
~gilli~'s Avatar ~gilli~ 08:38 AM 08-14-2006
Quote:
There are things I won't buy like Kleenex, I made my dd's hankies and they take them
But they are for the whole class.
BinahYeteirah's Avatar BinahYeteirah 09:34 AM 08-14-2006
Well, in theory, the tissues each child brings are supposed to cover that child's share of the tissues for the year even though the tissues are pooled in a classroom supply. If her dds do not use the classroom supply, perhaps they should not have to contribute to it either. I know I'd prefer my kids to limit their consumption of paper products in this way if practical.
mmace's Avatar mmace 09:58 AM 08-14-2006
Even if I made hankies for my kids, I'd send the kleenex in I think - I don't want some other kids snot flowing freely around my kid! kekeke

In our school, the kid could honestly show up with nothing and they'd be fine. I'll do the usual - backpack, notebook, some neat pencils and a lunchbox, but even that isn't necessary. There are no book fees (unless you lose a book), t-shirts for gym are provided and they can just wear any athletic shorts (and that's only middle school and up, elementary school doesn't change for gym), they'll get pencils, notebooks, etc. They would have to pay for the school lunch (less than $2 a day, but I'm not exactly sure on the price). And yes, I'll send in a couple of boxes of Kleenex with my 2nd grader, like I said, I'm happy to help make sure everyone has something to use!
LiamnEmma's Avatar LiamnEmma 12:43 PM 08-14-2006
yup, it's annoying at times, I agree. And, I know this sounds glib, but for gosh sakes, facial tissue seems to be the hottest commodity in the school setting. It's a conversation piece within the school staff rooms as well.

I do know though. When ds hit kindergarten I think I wrote five or six checks within the first week; the de rigueur t-shirt and sweatshirt with the school logo, the 10 (yep, I send in 10 each year) boxes of kleenex plus a case of baby wipes. The stickers for the classroom, the list goes on and on. I said to dh, "Huh, so this is free public schooling..." The district I work in provides everything except the school t-shirts.
karen ann's Avatar karen ann 12:53 PM 08-14-2006
I haven't gotten a supply list for DS starting kindergarten (at least not yet). But his friend just moved to the next town over, and not only did they get a list, it was brand specific -- not the cheapo discount brands either: Crayola crayons, Fiskar scissors, Puffs brand tissues, etc.
menudo's Avatar menudo 01:05 PM 08-14-2006
We are in a generally middle-upper middle class district (we so are not that tho!) and I was shocked that for 4 years now-we are never ever asked to supply anything! No pencils, notebooks, folders, nada. So monetarily, they kick butt.

A friend who lived in a wealthy district nearby (but was dirt poor herself, with 3 boys) was expected to pay for EVERYTHING. The school had a POOL for gym and they wanted tons of swimming supplies! She finally called the school who HASSLED her but gave in. She felt crumby having to say "I am broke, sorry!" HEr kid had to skip it or they had to make arrangements.
afishwithabike's Avatar afishwithabike 01:12 PM 08-14-2006
Many schools are operating on a tight budget. A VERY tight budget. Just imagine the cost of sending them to a private school. Most around here are 4-10K a year.
1xmom's Avatar 1xmom 03:07 PM 08-14-2006
My dd's school supplies have some name brand things. But I have to admit, I would rather my dd has good craylola than the off brand that break in half if you press too hard. Although I think the box of tissues is a bit much. I can't see them using all of them.
When I was in middle/high school we had a small fee for the use of lockers. We also had to buy a gym uniform or wear the same colors. I don't know how it is now. I also remember when my brother and sister played sports they didn't have these outrageous fees to play. Heaven forbid if you have more than one child playing more than one sport. It's like $50 per sport and that's not including the uniform!
jkpmomtoboys's Avatar jkpmomtoboys 07:15 PM 08-14-2006
Our school has a school supply kit that you buy at the beginning of the year (or the end of last year). I want to say it was $35 or so. We also have a "party" fund, a field trip fund, a fund for general classroom supplies, then of course the various donations for the classroom during the year.

It totals probably around $500.

But worth it for us, because we have a very high quality school and I'd rather support the school than go to private school, which is costing our various friends about 15K a year.

Still though, my mom, who taught K & 1st in the 60's is shocked that we have to buy our own school supplies...
Leatherette's Avatar Leatherette 02:44 AM 08-15-2006
Our school has non-drinkable water, so parents take turns bringing in cases of water bottles, and a volunteer parent fills the bottles daily from a filtered water cooler (like Sparkletts).

They always ask for more than they need, assuming a certain number of people can't or won't send things in.

Our Kindergarten teacher asked for lots of glue sticks.

There are fundraisers every month.

Yet there is government money to send planes patrolling to look for marijuana plants growing on the side of the road........

L.
afishwithabike's Avatar afishwithabike 12:08 PM 08-15-2006
I said something to DH about this lastnight and he was outraged at what people have to bring out of pocket for a public school system. Then we said something to MIL who is a Media Secretary (aka Library Clerk) at one of the local schools. She told us what thier students have to kick in and I got even more sickened. I KNOW the schools budget gets cut nearly every year around here but I didn't know how truly bad it was. Their school no longer has an actual Librarian their teachers are doing their OWN specials (music, library, phys ed). They have laid off about ten to fourteen teachers every year for the last FOUR years. The teachers they are hiring are teaching two to three subjects each at the Junior High and High School levels. Many schools can't get their levies to pass and EVEN more things are being cut because they can't suppliment the support at the local levels. WHY?? This particular area sends most of their children to Catholic private schools and the parents do not feel they need to pay the extra taxes. I wouldn't want to send my child to a Catholic private school and that is about the ONLY private schools available here. There are a few others that are Non-Catholic but they are spread out and horribly expensive in comparison. The entire Public school system EVERYWHERE is in big trouble if the gov't doesn't do something soon.
brookely ash's Avatar brookely ash 12:04 PM 08-16-2006
we have to pay for things at my ds's school. $20 for supplies, some money for a workbook program and of course, lunch if we were to buy hot lunch.

I agree that the public school system is in big trouble, and that our tax money should go more towards the school, but at the same time I try and focus on the fact that for the most part, my kids are getting a FREE education. We are very fortunate to live in a country that offers this.
Kaitnbugsmom's Avatar Kaitnbugsmom 12:24 PM 08-16-2006
Total for book rental, cubby usage, etc. for 1 K-5 on the half-day program {because they have to score way low to get full day :} and one second grader? $152 but that's not counting the $200 in additional supplies {including white, non-skid, lace-up sneakers for gym class, which they only have 3 days/week 12 weeks out of the whole year!}

We did get one good thing this year. They backed off the name-brand craze. Last years lists were Folio Brand portfolios Mead brand notebooks, Purell brand hand sanitizer, Clorox brand wipes-unscented only, mead brand pencils, and so forth. This year it's just "1 roll disinfectant wipes, 2 70 count wide ruled notebooks OR 140 sheets wide rule loose leaf notebook paper and binder. So I guess that's a small victory..

What gets me though? I have to send in an extra 'light weight' sweater from now til November and then a 'light weight, flexible winter jacket' from November thru mid-march or april, for the kids to keep/use in the school [b] because they keep the thermostat at 62 degrees F year round! [/i] So it's not like the extra money they're saving not providing books, supplies, better teachers, or year round music, art and pe {or any single of those} is going toward building costs. This school was built eight years ago, supposed to be state of the art, with all the energy saving stuff available, and they can't afford to turn the heat up a bit? Yet all the classrooms have computers hard wired to overhead projectors so they can use them 4 nights out of the year {and in the ESL classroom about once a week} to do presentations for the parents/grandparents? WTF???

I am literally counting the days til we're out of the military and I can start HS'ing again full time
CarrieMF's Avatar CarrieMF 01:04 PM 08-16-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~gilli~
But they are for the whole class.
Perhaps so but why should I bring something that MY DD won't use? My household does not use 2 boxes of kleenex in 1 year so why would I buy that many for a classroom when my dd will not use them. If we were a family that actually got sick then maybe I would, but I'm not supplying something my child won't use. Our school is very strong on recycling and being aware of the ecosystem so there has never been a problem with my dd taking hankies, her friends want them. In Grade 2 my dd was sick so often she used a whole 2 hankies the entire year and one of those was in her jacket for when they were outside playing in the dead of winter and her nose ran.

I also live in a completely different country and in an area where the schools are given more money. Alot of these things that are asked for(plastic bags, paper plates, tp) are provided for by the school. If the school started asking for hand sanitizer or baby wipes I would not send them either as I don't believe in using either one of those products.

Quote:
it was brand specific -- not the cheapo discount brands either: Crayola crayons, Fiskar scissors, Puffs brand tissues, etc.
They get very specific here too. Crayola crayons are the only thing I will specifically buy brand name because the rest suck and the other pencil crayons break all the time. The rest of it, if they want brand name they can buy it themselves. They wanted brand name paper this year, it's freaking paper! I don't know what i got yesterday.lol If the brand name is on for cheaper than the other stuff I'll buy it.

Quote:
school had a POOL for gym and they wanted tons of swimming supplies!
That is ridiculous, if the school can afford a pool they can afford the supplies.

Quote:
I also remember when my brother and sister played sports they didn't have these outrageous fees to play. Heaven forbid if you have more than one child playing more than one sport
school sports? here they don't have to pay for playing school sports or for uniforms.

For Grade 3 the total cost of send her is

$43, some stuff i have already since she was in K or Grade 1 like her ruler, pencil case, headphones, lunch bag
$20 new backpack because the "good" one I bought last year is a pos.
$20 for shoes
$5 for recorder
$20 school fees.

For my dd going into K

$4 backpack(got it on clearance)
$20 headphones
$20 shoes
$3 lunchbag

total for the 2 kids is $155. Next year the one who will be going into Grade 1 will have to add the ruler, pencil case and such becuase none of that is required in K.

When a friend of mine had her 4 kids in school in a different district it cost her $1200 for their scientific calculators they needed, plus thier other supplies.
brookely ash's Avatar brookely ash 01:06 PM 08-16-2006
our school has a pool,but its paid for by the parks and recreation dept. not the school. maybe thats the case in this situation?
LizD's Avatar LizD 01:37 PM 08-16-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by lisalou
I'd personally prefer it if people in general looked at what it actually does cost to live in society. To maintain roadways, public buildings, snow removal, schools etc. and be more willing to pay that cost. It's not that I think taxes should be sky high but I'd realy like to see a town stop plowing a few streets during the winter of those who say, "I don't want to pay for that" during budget time. So maybe they would realize more we're all in this together to build a future for our community and children.
Well said! In the US we don't pay very high taxes at all compared to countries with much better services for their citizens (think Scandinavia!). Per capita spending on students is *pathetic.* And although the government should prioritize poverty and public education and access to health care, it just isn't happening any time soon.

I think the brand-request thing is usually due to a desire for consistency in appearance and quality, rather than brand-awareness. It's very nice to have all the students have the same paper, workbooks, crayons, pencils, etc. It may seem silly but it really does make a difference in the atmosphere in some ways (I say this as a former private school elementary teacher). Teachers are working hard enough as it is to create a haven in their classrooms- not having the right tools for any job is a distraction and a drag, let alone when working with little ones.

To keep it in perspective, I am paying a thousand dollars a month for private school for my dd starting this year. Next year ds will be ready for 3-day kindergarten, so in addition to our (very low- $5K) taxes we will be spending $15,000 a year on tuition. So if you have access to quality public education, please do what you can and then some. Plenty of families really *can't* buy that box of tissues. And part of going to school is being a member of a class, a community. It doesn't matter if one or two children don't use the tissues. They are needed for other children, for visitors, for teachers, for those who forgot their hanky. This is the first of many instances in a child's life in which those who have more must help ensure that everyone has some.
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