Back to School 2009

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Parents feel the pinch to their pockets

By Bryan Marshall

Folders, pencils, notebooks, oh my!


As the start of the new school year rapidly approaches, parents are loading up on school supplies for their children.

Angela Hedenberg of Crittenden shopped at the Dry Ridge Wal-Mart with her two children, 7-year-old Porter and 5-year-old Macy.

Both children were excited when looking at the backpacks.

While Porter was not able to take home a new "Transformers" backpack to join his "Spiderman" and "Iron Man" ones at home, Macy was able to choose one for her jump into kindergarten.

"You can pick one because this is you're first year," Angela told Macy.

Kay Collins of Williamstown shopped for folders, pencils, pens, notebooks and other school supplies for back-to-school bags for children at Williamstown Methodist Church

"It sends a message that we value education," she said about providing the supplies.

Some items, including $80 graphing calculators and $10 flash drives for middle and high school students, may hurt the wallet.

However, a quick, random look at supply lists from several second grade and fifth-grade classes at local elementary schools showed the financial burden varied and was less than one might expect.

One school's second grade required less than $5 worth of supplies to be purchased with items such as tissues, paper towels, erasers, markers, baby wipes and watercolor paints considered optional.

To purchase the items on the most expensive second-grade supply list cost about $32.

In fifth grade, the supplies ranged from about $10 to $34 per class.

"I think our teachers know their kids and their neighborhoods pretty well and they try to gauge (amount of school supplies) by that," Grant County Schools Superintendent Michael Hibbett said. "There's no limit they have to go by."

"I think a lot of it is what the teachers need in the classroom," he said. "None of what the parents would donate is something that we would need to run the school with. In honesty, I think a lot of it is the teacher tries to avoid out-of-pocket expenses because if the kid doesn't have it, usually the tissue gets it if they can't get it from the administration."

Here are several tips on how to save money on school supplies, according to www.momsbudget.com.

• Get the supply list before purchasing anything to make sure you do not buy the wrong or too many supplies.

• Re-use supplies from last school year, including scissors, binders, rulers and backpacks.

• Visit dollar and other discount stores to shop for deals on notebooks, pens, pencils and other supplies.

• Shop around to check for the least expensive prices on the supplies needed.

• If possible, shop a few weeks into the start of school when some stores will be looking to clear out their inventory at a discount.

• Swap some supplies, such as backpacks and lunch boxes, with other parents to help prevent children being concerned with being seen with items from the previous school year.

Students also have opportunity to have some fun and save their parents some money at a back to school blowout planned for 7 p.m. Aug. 8 at Grant County Park in Crittenden.

There will be a limited amount of free hot dogs and free school supplies given away.

The movie “Hotel For Dogs” will be shown at dark.

Bring blankets or chairs for the movie.

Concessions will be available to purchase.

The event is sponsored by Grant County Community Education, Grant County Parks and Recreation, Grant County Family Resource Centers and Youth Service Center, Grant County School District Coordinated Health and Williamstown Family Resource Youth Service Center.

"We strive to provide family events that can benefit the kids, whether it's recreationally or through their education," said Tabatha Fryman, director of Grant County Parks and Recreation. "We feel like this is a great opportunity for parents and kids to be able to come out and gather school supplies, have a good time at a family event and enjoy a movie."