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The Ever-Expanding School Supplies List

If the the back-to-school supplies section of your local store looks a little weird this year, blame it on budget cuts.  As schools struggle to make ends meet, they are turning to parents to fill in the gaps by asking them to purchase items not traditionally considered school supplies.  Along with pencils, notebooks and glue, we are being asked to supply cleaning products, paper plates, baby wipes and much more.

The school supplies lists our kids bring home have been expanding for some time now, but this year it seems to have reached a whole new level.  Not only are parents being asked to purchase far more paper, pencils and markers than one kid could possibly use in a school year, they are being asked to provide many of the things schools used to provide for teachers.  But if we don’t buy the computer paper, sandwich bags, liquid hand soap and cleaning supplies, who will?

The teachers, of course.  But while we certainly don’t expect them to bear that financial burden, what about parents who can’t bear it either? As my colleague Paula Bernstein points out, what is an annoying extra expense for some families can be downright impossible for others to manage.

Last year, I had to bring in two big bags of supplies for my kids. We must have spent at least $100. Laying out the cash was a drag for us, but for other families, it’s a major financial hardship.

I don’t suppose they’ll send your kid home if she shows up on the first day of school without toilet paper and hand sanitizer.  But if you are looking for bargains on such things, they are out there. Retailers know exactly what parents are being asked to provide and many of them are putting those very items on sale.

Anything surprising on your own child’s school supply list this year?

Image: Heather Elias/Flickr

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