Supplies & Demands: Parents search for items on school supply lists

Published 5:26 pm Friday, July 18, 2014

By Christopher Edmunds
The Selma Times-Journal

With the ring of school bells fast approaching, educators and families are working to prepare students for the first day of the new school year.

Retailers in the area are setting up displays full of markers, pens and notebooks to help back-to-school shoppers find what they need.

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School supply lists help parents shop for exactly what their children will need to be prepared for class. The lists include all types of writing utensils, cleaning supplies and class fees. The cost of outfitting a student for the new year can vary depending on the grade level and school.

Using a Morgan Academy 5th grader as an example, the basic school supplies listed for this year cost about $40, while a Valley Grande 1st grader will need nearly $70 worth of supplies.

Chinita Irby, a 6th grade reading teacher at Tipton Middle School, said supply lists are usually developed by the teachers.

“We get together as a department and as a grade to decide what students are going to need,” Irby said. “We try to get together to make sure our supply lists are connected, and students have the tools needed to move from one grade level to another.”

Irby said she understands how expensive shopping for school supplies can be.

“Because of the economics in Selma, we try to only include items on the supply list that students really need,” she said.

To ease some of the cost on parents, a sales tax holiday will exempt most school supplies from city and state taxes.

Even though the tax-free weekend begins August 1, Kim McHugh went back-to-school shopping for her three children Thursday afternoon.

“I just want to get it over with,” McHugh said. “I want to get what I need before it’s all gone. It’s usually picked over by tax-free weekend, and I don’t like the crowds.”

McHugh said it’s helpful to have a list of supplies when shopping for her three children, but some of the items can be hard to find.

“Some of the years, it’s harder to find for my kids the specific things they need, like certain sized boxes that fit in their desk,” she said. “The list has dimensions, and you have to find the right sized box to fit in their desk, so stuff like that can be hard to find.”

While most school supply lists do not specify brands, McHugh said she usually buys the name brand items because they tend to last longer.

“I usually go with the name brand just so I’m sure that they won’t break and I’ll have to re-buy them,” she said. “That happens, and I just end up re-buying three months into the school year.”

When students do not have the supplies they need for the first day of class, Irby said most teachers will give the students time to find what they need, but teachers occasionally take on the extra expense.

“We give them time to try and get the supplies, but sometimes teachers will go into their own pockets,” Irby said. “We will do what we need to do for our students.”

Irby said the most important school supplies are not necessarily on the provided lists.

“Supplies are just one part of being prepared for school,” she said. “The most important supply is for students to come back with the right attitude and willingness to learn.”