Monday, July 20, 2009

The cost of public school.

Last year when Jameson entered Kindergarten, we were excitedly buying cute, little school supplies. Everything had to match and be "the best of the best".

We started with the school supply list that we were given at Kindergarten registration, sometime in the Spring, months before he was actually supposed to start school. We guarded that list with our lives, and started buying everything on the list as soon as Wal-Mart put the school supplies out. Two months before school started, we were ready.....

That is, until the SECOND school supply list came in the mail, when we were notified who his teacher would be.

No problem. Most of the things on the first list were on the second list, but there were differences. So, we quickly rushed to get the supplies on the new list.....

THEN, the first day of school....we got TWO MORE LISTS.....

One stating "Things that you don't have to buy, but you really need", and another stating "You don't have to buy these, but we really need them for the classroom."

Literally, I spent $183.00 on KINDERGARTEN school supplies for Jameson last year....And that's NOT including clothes and shoes!

Then it was the check for school lunches, a check for the class scrapbook, a check for this, a check for the time his first week was over, I was BROKE!

Throughout the year, there was always something going on....Scholastic Book Club, Book Fair, Homecoming, Annuals, School Pictures, Luau,.....It seemed like I was writing a check or sending a dollar or two at least twice a week. Then there were the weeks when the "snack bag" was sent home, for us to provide snack for the class, and the "Friday Surprise Bag" for us to provide small gifts for the kids in the class....the thing about that was, Jameson NEVER got the Friday surprise because he was always in trouble.

By the end of the year, I felt like I had just spent enough money to enroll Jameson in Private School!

Now I am DEFINITELY NOT saying anything negative about the teachers asking for these things....I feel SO SORRY for these wonderful teachers who literally have to supply their classes because there is NO funding for them. Do you know that each teacher is given a limited number of packs of copy paper, and anything that is used over that number has to be bought by the teacher? RIDICULOUS!!

We are very fortunate that our kids have nice, new, clean schools to attend, thanks to a city sales tax that was added several years ago. I would be nice if some of that tax money could go to buy school supplies, too. And we are exceptionally fortunate to have some of the best school teachers around! Being a public school teacher in the state of Alabama is DEFINITELY a calling! There is no way they could ever be accused of going into teaching for the money!

As the new school year quickly approaches, I have been DREADING the school money pit. So, this year, I have decided to keep a detailed list of exactly how much money I spend for my son's "Public School" Education. And what a better way to keep up it than to blog about!

Today I decided to take the plunge and buy all of the supplies on the FIRST (and I hope the ONLY) list I have.

Not too least I thought at first. Once we found out that "School Bag" and "Zippered Pencil Pouch" were the same things (and was supposed to be omitted) we were good.

So, off to Wal-Mart we went. If I'm going to buy school supplies, I have to go to the cheapest store, right?

We quickly found most of the things on the list....but with a few exceptions....

NO clear bookbags (other than plain black or pink), NO first grade tablets (I did find two that I did eventually buy, but they were smaller and more expensive than the tablets we got last year), and jumbo glue sticks only sold in individual packages!

Our damage for the first store is as follows:

A total from Wal-Mart of $26.52.

Then, off to Target to try to find the rest of the school supply list plus an extra 1" binder in case we needed two different colors and a box of Capri-Sun for daily snack at school:

For a total of $37.09.

This is a Grand total of $63.61!

This total doesn't include the $35.00 worth of copy paper my mother so generously got with a coupon she had through her work with the newspaper.

This also doesn't include the money I will spend on clothes and shoes, either.

Here is what $63.61 looks like:

And THIS is what a pouting 6-y.o. face looks like when he finds out that all of his "toy" money just went to school supplies:

This is just for ONE child! We are extremely fortunate that Chelsea's school supplies are provided for her through her Special Ed classroom. We do, of course, splurge on backpacks, pencils, pens, papers, things that she feels she "needs" to make it through the! She also "gets" to wear super-special UNIFORMS to school, too! YUK! Jameson will be in uniforms in three more years. I know that is going to go over like a lead balloon with him. He's such a little "fashion bug"!

What do parents do that have more than one child? Marty is one of TEN children! How could a family possibly buy school supplies these days for TEN children? Even if we bought the cheapest, most generic of school supplies, that would still cost at least $40.00 per child!


I pray that as the years go, something will happen to make this doesn't look like it will anytime in the near future, however.

I better start looking for a second job so I can save up for Second grade!


  1. I've been saying this for years. It could be worse, in some Indiana school districts I've been told that you have to pay for books! And did I read that receipt correctly? 10% sales tax? Do ya'll have a state income tax too? Yikes! Texas has a "sales tax holiday" one weekend every year before school starts - no sales tax on clothes, shoes, etc $100.00 or less (the limit is per item, not total). They just passed legislation allowing the holiday for school supplies too. Believe me, you do NOT want to go shopping that weekend unless you are buying for back to school. But it really can add up, especially if you have more than 1 kiddo. Now, would you like to see the receipts for the past 3 years of a "public" college education lol. 3 years down, 1 to go yippee! Of course, at this rate I'll be retiring when I'm 80 haha. Hope you have a great week. Kathy

  2. Yes, Ma'am....10% sales tax in Calhoun County (thank you Mayor Leon Smith) and 9% in Talladega County. Fortunately, I live on the edge of both counties, so I have my choice. I try to shop in Talladega County as much as possible, but very limited shopping there! I would shop in my itty-bitty hometown, but we only have a Dollar!

    We are having a sales tax holiday, but it is the weekend right before school starts on Monday! I'd rather pay the extra 10% than be caught in that mess!

    I don't even want to think about college. Fortunately, we will have 15 years of equity built up in our house by that!

  3. Did they have school lists back in the day for Granny to buy? No wonder it took them so long to be able to afford a bigger house! lol

  4. I think you got sheisted on the Kleenex. Just saying.

  5. I feel your pain Robin. My girls are going to a Charter School this school year, and the list is much SMALLER! They did want expensive pencils for the kids, not happening! I have a about 300 pencils laying around here, they are getting those! I spent under $50 yesterday at Target! I still need to get the Backpacks and lunch boxes though. That should be another $50. I am also done with their clothes shopping....spent about 150.00 on both girls. Uniforms are GREAT!

  6. i too, have been complaining for years! it's absolutely ridiculous how much money goes out the door each week! [thank goodness i'm down to only one in school!] i call it nickle & diming us to death!! like you, i don't blame the teachers... but i do think that if the school districts are not prepared to pay for the 'extras'.. then they need to cut some of them out. a few field trips less per year wouldn't hurt anyone. besides, it sure helps balance out those who CAN participate, and those who CAN'T. breaks my heart when a whole class gets excited about a trip, only to discover that some are unable to participate because their poor parents can't afford it. public school my booty! not anymore it's not. it's a shame we pay our sports stars & entertainers so much money.. and give our teachers & military mere peanuts! omg robin.. sorry.. guess i got on my soap box again.

  7. We have 5 kids, 4 of them always in school at once, and it's a fortune. I always plan to save 100 per child for supplies and I take one kid a month starting in May and ending in August... but sometimes we didn't get their school supply list ahead of time. School supplies are NOT fun- but they should be!

    Have a good year!

  8. Kimberly, It was a jumbo three pack of Kleenex....but they were still expensive! lol!

  9. Forget saving for college, I guess we need to start saving for Elementary school first. Sheesh!


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