Back-to-School Supply Surprises

I could so relate to the recent New York Times piece on back-to-school lists. My daughter’s is nearly a mile long and includes items that left me wondering if I was stocking the school’s janitorial supply room instead of prepping my child for first grade.

Tuition at my daughter’s Catholic school is insanely high (one academic year = price of a very, very good used car), so why is it that I am having to send my kid to school with cleaning supplies, Ziploc bags, anti-bacterial products and a myriad of paper goods, in addition to the standard pencils, notebooks and glue?

I know. Blame it on the economy, right?

According to “experts,” the majority of U.S. schools (both public and private) are struggling to make ends meet, so they are turning to parents to supplement classrooms with cleaning supplies and other necessities from computer paper to toilet paper.

Listen, I’m all for following rules, and I certainly don’t expect cash-strapped teachers to have to bear the burden of stocking their classrooms with essentials, but what about families that can’t take the financial hit? What’s more, how do schools keep track of which students actually bring everything featured on the school supply lists and which simply say, “Forget it; my kid’s only bringing paper, pencils and glue.”

At my daughter’s school all cleaning supplies and paper goods are collected on the day before the first day of class (a.k.a. Student Orientation Day). Students are instructed to place their boxes of Kleenex, paper towels, Clorox wipes, Dixie cups, Ziploc bags, etc. into huge cardboard boxes. If you have the items you deposit them into the boxes, if you don’t, then you simply proceed to the child’s desk. There isn’t a school staff member monitoring the boxes.

At the end of the day staff need a small tractor to haul away all of the collected goods. Though, ironically, you’d never know that the school hit the cleaning supply jackpot on Student Orientation Day given that by mid-November students are being sent home with letters saying that additional classroom supplies are needed for the remainder of the year.

Apparently, the need never ends.

What surprises did you find on your child’s school supply list?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.