Why Must Half-Day Kindergartners Spend Over $100 for School Supplies?
The Cost and Nature of School Supplies
From the beginning of August each year to mid-September, retailers in the United States offer discount sales on school supplies. Some states and communities allow the retailers to skip the sales tax fro a week during such a sale. Other retailers partner with school districts in order to compile School Supply Packets at discount prices for sale at the school in a School Supplies Event before the academic year begins.
Smart retailers include the backpack that most grade levels in my state now require - "no wheels, please." All of the school supplies packet is packed into the backpack for easy takeaway or the families, without the hassle of ensuring that the students come up with the correct brand of marker or pencil. Brand names cause consternation among some parents that put together their own supplies for their students and substitute store brands and find that the school absolutely will not accept them. In a few school districts, bringing the incorrect supplies to school affects school registration and grades the child might receive.
Free School Supply Giveaways in my city help some families with the brand name dilemma, because the packet of supplies are donated strictly according to the required list of supplies published by each school district. With over 1/3 of my large city's children receiving assistance from Food Stamps (SNAP), it is easy to see why some families cannot purchase the more expensive brand names.
A related question:
- How many school supplies and snacks and beverages are your family required to buy for your child?
Listing of the answers to the question: How many school supplies and snacks and beverages are your family required to buy for your child's classroom every year in addition to the supplies for your child?
Examples of School Supply Packs
Some families are able to purchase School Supply Packs online from Amazon at a discounted rate and based on Crayola products. Crayola is the brand required by the school district whose school supply list I obtained. This Crayola based included crayons, markers of three types, and colored pencils. Fiskars is the brand of blunt metal scissors required (metal scissors in K sounds dangerous to me, despite the bluntness).
Kindergarten was not mandatory during my school years. In first grade, we needed only an 8-pack of the big fat "kids' crayons", two overly fat black pencils that did nothing for our fine motor movements either, a jar of paste, lined first-grade writing paper, a ruler, a pack of manila drawing paper, an eraser, and a small pair of plastic scissors.
My grandfather and father both had only a few pencils, a writing tablet of some sort, a small slate, and some chalk.
- How PTOs Fight the High Cost of School Supplies
So many Brand Name school supplies are required in American grades K-8 in the 2010s that one might suspect kickbacks! Actually, some families choose to home school their youngsters in part because of the expense of school supplies, additional school.
Why So Much For Kindergarten?
Noticing that many parents were complaining in my community about Kindergarten school supplies for the upcoming school year, I picked up a copy of the required products. The list was surprising.
For a class of 28 students attending Kindergarten from either 9:00 AM - Noon or 12:30PM - 3:30PM, the list below was astounding. Notice that the teachers handle two different classes daily, with only 30 minutes in between. Each class attempts to maintain two Minimum-Wage classroom aides to help the teacher, making a child-to-adult ratio of over 9 to 1.
School Supply List for Half-Day Kindergarten In One School District
These items are needed every day, no exceptions. On the first day of school, please have the required supplies packed into the soft-sided pencil case and the pencil case packed inside of the backpack with the other supplies listed for the backpack, and the backpack closed securely.
- 1 large, sturdy school bag (absolutely no wheels) that closes easily. Please do not have or allow your child to attach any toys, trinkets, carbingers, or zipper pulls to the bag.
- 1 set of good quality headphones (no ear buds) that fit your child's head. These will be used all year and must be replaced if lost or broken. Please place your child's name on the headset by some permanent means.
- 1 hardback 3-ring binder, 1/2" size. Please label with child's name.
- 4 boxes of 24-pack thin Crayola crayons, regular - no scented, sparkle, or neon colors.
- 2 10-count boxes of Crayola Classic Colors Washable Markers, thin.
- 1 12-count box Crayola colored pencils.
- 1 8-pack dry erase markers, unscented, no neon colors.
- 2 yellow highlighters.
- 1 Prang brand watercolor paints.
- 1 Crayola brand watercolor paints.
- 7 large glue sticks.
- 2 two-pocket folders in plain colors without designs or pictures, with paper-clasps inside.
- 1 two-pocket folder, plain, without paper-clasps, for bringing important papers back and forth to school and home.
- 1 sturdy but soft pencil case large enough to hold pencils, glue sticks, eraser, scissors, and markers - no boxes of any type will be permitted.
- 2 sharpened #2 pencils daily.
- 2 large pink rubber erasers.
- 3 plain-covered one-subject wide-ruled spiral notebooks (in 3 different colors)
- 1 FISKARS brand pair of metal children's scissors
Outside the backpack in a shopping bag:
- 1 long-sleeved, over-sized shirt to wear during Art Classes. This should cover your child to below the knees, but not be long enough to cause tripping and falling.
- 1 LARGE or DOUBLE roll of paper towels
- 1 CANISTER of Clorox Disinfectant Wipes
- 1 8-ounce bottle hand sanitizer.
- 1 8-ounce bottle Elmer's Glue.
- 1 box of gallon size Ziploc Freezer bags
- 1 box of quart size Ziploc Freezer bags
- 1 LARGE box of tissues (250 count).
Some other Kindergarten classes also request paper napkins, paper plates, Post-It Notes, pre-packaged snacks, and juice boxes.
Local families wonder why the school districts cannot provide some of these materials and also, exactly how low-paid are the teachers? Some families would like to see teachers paid less and school districts use the savings to supply some of the things listed above. This is a sore point every year.
In a Kindergarten year of 179 or 180 days at 3 hours per day attendance, can all of the materials listed above even be used? Probably not, since a nap and a snack time are subtracted from the 3 hours. Learning takes up perhaps 2.5 hours a day. Subtract another 30 minutes for singing, dancing, and other physical learning, and we are left with 2 hours per day for using markers and paper and the like. Of course, uncapped markers dry up, pencils are tossed away or broken, etc. Families notice all this.
The resulting figures of an investigation have convinced some families to home school their children in order to avoid high costs of school attendance.
Many teachers report that they purchase extra supplies for their classrooms, especially when in the midst of an important learning project which the school will not help to fund. Let us look at teacher's salaries in Columbus Public Schools for the past several years:
Teacher's Salaries In this School District, Including Kindergarten
Salary for a BA Degree, Min - Max
2010 - 2011
$40,123 to $66,897
2009 - 2010
$39,011 to $65,043
2008 - 2009
$37,930 to $63,241
2007 - 2008
$36,879 to $61,489
The average salary for teachers in this Central Ohio school district for the year 2011 - 2012 was $49,000. Teachers possessing Master's Degrees receive higher pay. At the same time, a teacher in this state must have earned a Master's Degree within 10 years of the Bachelor Degree and beginning to teach, else lose their position.
According to government data at the BLS, the 2012 average salary in this Ohio district is $36,790. This is less than the salaries earned by teachers, including Kindergarten teachers - almost $4,000 per year less than the teacher minimum in this Northern Columbus district.
Some families are angry that teacher's earn more than these families' household income, yet the school district requires so much outlay in school supplies.