TLP: Colored Pencils and Three-Ring Binders Just Won't Do Anymore

school budgets
So, it's the middle of August and parents everywhere are, shall we say, excited about the start of the school year. Well, maybe until they check out the list of supplies their children are expected to bring to class on the first day.

When Emily Cooper headed off to first grade in Moody, Ala., last week, she was prepared with all the stuff on her elementary school’s must-bring list: two double rolls of paper towels, three packages of Clorox wipes, three boxes of baby wipes, two boxes of garbage bags, liquid soap, Kleenex and Ziplocs.

“The first time I saw it, my mouth hit the floor,” Emily’s mother, Kristin Cooper, said of the list, which also included perennials like glue sticks, scissors and crayons.

Schools across the country are beginning the new school year with shrinking budgets and outsize demands for basic supplies. And while many parents are wincing at picking up the bill, retailers are rushing to cash in by expanding the back-to-school category like never before.

Now some back-to-school aisles are almost becoming janitorial-supply destinations as multipacks of paper towels, cleaning spray and hand sanitizer are crammed alongside pens, notepads and backpacks.

OfficeMax is featuring items like Clorox wipes in its school displays and is running two-for-one specials on cleaners like gum remover and disinfectant spray. Office Depot has added paper towels and hand sanitizer to its back-to-school aisles. Staples’ school fliers show reams of copy paper on sale, while Walgreens’ fliers are running back-to-school discounts on Kleenex.

State and local school financing, which make up almost all of public schools’ money, is falling because of budget-balancing efforts and lower property- and sales-tax revenue.

“Some of the things that have been historically provided by schools, we’re not able to provide at this point,” said Barbara A. Chester, president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
In the years that The Lazy Paperboy has been buying school supplies, regrettably, the lists have trended more and more toward WTF items. The lists used to be marked with asterisks when the item was considered voluntary and not something necessary for a student's daily work. Not so much anymore.

And the argument, 'That's what school taxes are for,' is harder and harder to make. Or at least to get anyone to listen to.

The Lazy Paperboy

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.