Buying school supplies no cheap task for families

It's back-to-school time for students in the Firelands area. Many families will be buying school supplies and making last-minute preparations right up until the time their children step on that school bus.
Scott Seitz
Jul 25, 2010

It's back-to-school time for students in the Firelands area.

Many families will be buying school supplies and making last-minute preparations right up until the time their children step on that school bus.

Notebooks, pencils, glue sticks, folders, paper, tissue, clothes and shoes are only some of the items parents buy before school starts.

According to a national survey, parents spend between $400 and $600 on back-to-school items each year.

Ken Moore, League Elementary principal, said the school tries to make it easier for parents of kindergarten through fourth-graders to find what they need.

"The school provided lists to all department stores like Kmart, Wal-Mart and Dollar General is helping us out," Moore said. "We send the list to them at the end of the year and they post it at the school-supply area of the store by the beginning of August. Sometimes parents can't get a thing or two on the list because it's sold out and we understand that."

Janice Smith, Pleasant Elementary principal, said school officials also sent supply lists to area stores in June.

"We also send it home with every student and mail it to the students involved in kindergarten screening," Smith said.

If a student was unable to obtain supplies by the first day of class or simply can't afford the supplies, the school can help.

"We have extra supplies here and also have resources to get (supplies) for them," Smith said.

Also, as part of the back-to-school process, Pleasant Elementary will be hosting a meet-and-greet from 1 to 2 p.m. Monday at the school. This gives the students, parents and staff all a chance to get acquainted.

Jackie Nemitz, Maplehurst Elementary principal, said school staff also sends school supply lists to local department stores and to the students' home.

"That's so the parents have an idea already before school," Nemitz said. "It's been very beneficial ... it's not essential the students have the supplies the first day."

Nemitz said the local Parent-Teacher Organization, along with local charities, will provide school supplies to any student not able to obtain them.

Another option is to buy school supplies online or at discount stores. Children often want notebooks with pictures or logos on the cover. Many online sources state plain notebooks are usually less expensive and may contain more paper. Many Web sites put together school-supply packages, where with just a click you can have the student's supplies delivered to the front door. Often, if the online shopper is ordering for more than one student, the shipping charge is ultimately waved.

When it comes to school clothes, a possible option is wearing hand-me downs or shopping at yard or garage sales, according to several online sources.

SchoolSupplies.com has mentioned several things trendy for this upcoming school year.

These are a few things each child should have in their backpack, the site said.

A journal and pen so one can write on the bus and between classes.

A high-energy bar or apple for quick boost, with nutrition.

A bad-hair day repair kit, because the Web site says, "it happens to everyone."

Judy Bigler, who has three children attending Maplehurst Elementary, said she did some shopping, but her sister did the majority.

"I'm off the hook there," Bigler joked. "My sister goes from store to store and that's the way to do it. She found folders for a penny."

School shopping can be expensive, but Bigler has found a way to keep costs down. "I require my children to use the same book bag two years in a row. Then, they can get a new one."

A quick shopping run around Norwalk this week showed folders, notebooks and other supplies ranging in cost from 40 cents to $2.

Local clerks said the "usual" supplies were popular this year, but added "anything with Transformers" on it was selling well.

Several area clerks, as well as a couple online sources, stated a final option for buying school supplies is to take the chance and wait until mid-September. The sources said many off the back-to-school items, if still remaining, will be marked down to the lower price or put in clearance areas of the stores.