Monday, September 7, 2009

School Supply Lists Come Under Fire

Here's two words for ya:


Inconsistent is for the ridiculous variability across the 7 elementary schools for even a single item on the supply lists.

Questionable (and we're being kind here) is the word that comes to mind when we really look at these class school supply lists.

5th grade supply lists Do they really need this many :
□ Pencils: Royals Oaks requires 12 pencils. Horizon requires 72 PER CHILD. Other schools require 36 or 48. 72 represents 1 pencil for about every 3 school days. Is that realistic?

□ Post-It Notes?

□ 400 sheets of notebook filler paper? That's about 2 sheets per child per day! And 2 of the 7 schools don't require it at all!

□ There are too many others to call them all out. W suggest, however, that you take a look.

Why do the kids/parents need to supply these items
□ Hand sanitizer (2 of 7 schools). Yes, we understand the need. But isn't this -as a need- something akin to toilet paper? It's needed, all kids use it (or should) therefore the school provides it. Or next year will each kid be required to bring a 6 roll pack of Charmin?

□ Disinfectant wipes (6 of 7 schools). Same issue.

□ Dry-erase markers (6 of 7 schools). Hello! Or are kids going to have to chip in next year and supply the whiteboard to go WITH the dry-erase markers?

□ Zip-lock bags. Some schools require them, some don't. There are size variations. We're just curious what they are used for.

□ Flashdrive. We get this one...and it is more of a personal data thing, so it does make sense to have each child bring their own. But we have two questions: (1) why is Eastside the only school to require one? and (2) are 128 Mb drives even still available? You might be able to find a 1 Gb drive, but pretty much 2 Gb is the low end these days.
Shouldn't these items be covered by the budget?

Why should parents even be providing these things, when the schools themselves aren't even spending all that was budgeted?
So we budgeted (and paid taxes for) about $50,000 that went unspent during the school year. Consequently, Administration proposed cutting budgets by 5% --that amounts to roughly the amount that went unspent-- so they could afford their 3.8+% pay raises.

Great! but the parents are still on the hook to provide all these questionable classroom supplies--not to mention the class fees that are "imposed".

How's about NOT cutting the school budgets and using that money to pay for these ridiculous school supplies? Especially when you advertised so well that 1500 families cannot afford to purchase the school supplies that ---now that we look closely at what they are--- the parents shouldn't have to pay in the first place.

And do not even THINK about going down the, "This the way it has always been and nobody's complained in the past" road. That road is closed permanently. FIRST, this is YOUR job, school board members. To make sure that the kids are provided with everything they need for a day at school. And yes they use the rest room, so you better supply TP for the restroom. And yes, they may have to blow their nose or sanitize their hands. Provide that as well.

TWO. These are unprecedented times, that call for re-evaluating ALL past practices.


►Notice who gets hurt most by the proposed cuts. The three schools with the highest number of socioeconomically challenged families (Bird, Westside, and Creekside) also came closest to exhausting their budgets. These schools will be seriously impacted by the proposed building budget cuts.

►Or was that the plan? The budget is being cut, so we'll require the parents to provide more.

►Couldn't the school district get these items in much larger quantity at a much better price AND tax exempt?

►Look...we get that parents should be supplying those things that are individual in nature: gym clothes/shoes/ an old "dad": shirt to wear for art, assignment books, even notebooks, and some other things. But back in the day, when a compass or protractor as needed, the teacher lugged out a box full of them. What's next? Parents required to supply toilet paper? Each parent assigned a certain square area of the floor to mop/wax?

►It seems only logical that those supplies that are consumed as part of the education process (let's apply--say---"the toilet paper test") should be provided by the school district and be budgeted for accordingly.

►How come parents need to provide these items -to the tune of let's say $40-50 per child- when the elementary schools alone had over $14,000 in unspent budget at the end of the school year. Those funds get scooped by the district, pooled and used to purchase "larger ticket" items before the end of the year.

---- Phil Frei wrote:
Any surplus money from any budget, building or department, goes into the general surplus account. Schools understand this and this has not been a problem. We encourage schools to not have the mentality to spend it or they will lose it. We try to pool money together in the spring for large purchases. Every department within the district is affected by the 5% cut, for example B&G, Instructional Services, HR. In general the schools got cut $50,000. Capital projects got cut $50,000 and $150,000 came from all other areas. We could not do across the board 5% cut to all budgets b/c some budgets could not be cut, for example utilities and transportation. In these cases the adm. cut 5% from areas that could be cut. Yes, the overall reduction to the mill rate is about .07 cents from the 5% cut.

►Two other schools, Creekside and Royal Oaks seemed to have a sneaky way of sliding in what WE would call "class fees":

Royal Oaks 2009-10 Kindergarten School Supply List - $10.00 for film development and crafts (please make checks payable to SPASD). Who the heck uses film these days?

Creekside 2009-10 Supply Lists: Optional $10 classroom donation for picture printing & crafts (please make checks payable to SPASD). Optional! That's clever!