As schools get back to business this week, parents may still be busy collecting items from the classroom supplies list.
For some, the supplies quest continues – from loading up on the usual suspects (markers, glues sticks or filler paper) to the more exotic (bleach wipes or a long sock for storing recorders).
For others, it’s over, albeit with a snag or two.
Amy Semel, whose son is starting fourth grade this week, ran into the problem of stores not having copies of the supplies list.
“I found a guy at Walmart ... he was stocking, and he helped me,” she said. “They didn’t have the list, so I had to pull it up on my phone while I was there, which made it kind of harder because it was smaller.”
Semel suggested a way to make finding school-specific items a little easier.
“It would be awesome if there was some way we could talk to the stores to organize (supplies) by schools, or have a lead parent who puts together groups for parents,” she said.
Christy Deem has a child starting second grade. For her family, a trip north resulted in a one-stop shop for everything they need – including a cool new backpack. The one thing that puzzled Deem, though, was the specific nature of some of the listed supplies.
“We were in Denver, so I got all of our school supplies at Target,” she said. “They have all these particular things (on the list), like the Flairs. It seems like they’re so particular in what they want, but you just kind of go with it and not worry about it.”
There’s a reason for the items, says retired teacher Paula Karron.
Karron, who taught elementary school in Bayfield for 24 years, says that while parents may wonder about the necessity of some of the items on the list, nothing is there arbitrarily.
From her experience, there are reasons for items such as binders of a certain inch size so that they’ll fit in students’ desks or pencils being of a certain brand because they’ve proved themselves to hold up under tough student use without constant breakage or having to be constantly sharpened.
She said that as a retired teacher, who was buying back-to-school supplies for her grandkids Sunday, she’s seeing the process from the other side of the desk.
“I would say, yes, it’s stuff they need,” she said. “When I was teaching, the budgets were minimal. If you can get that stuff, it would be great.”
She found that students would run out of items, so her advice to parents is to try to get as many of the items from the list as possible at the beginning of the year so that kids are covered.
“I think a good starter would be to get as much as you can,” she said.
But what if families find it hard to pay for their kiddos’ needs?
Julie Popp, spokeswoman for Durango School District 9-R, said the goal isn’t to bankrupt parents with back-to-school supplies, adding that costs totaling about $45 per student is the goal.
“From a district perspective, we do encourage schools to keep costs down,” she said. “We don’t want it to be cost-prohibitive for any families.”
For families that can’t buy supplies, Popp said the district works with community resources to ensure that needs are met.
“In public schools, you serve everybody,” she said. “We don’t want that to be a reason that a child doesn’t come to school because they don’t have school supplies.”
Popp said there are programs in place that provide assistance with supplies to help families that may need a hand, such as the Backpack Program and Clothing Exchange.
“It takes a village to raise a child,” she said. “We’re all there to support all children.”