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How to split list of school supplies?

Parents have helped supply small items, like tissues. But in today’s economy, who will buy what?

August 13, 2009|By Mary O’Keefe

GLENDALE — With just two weeks until students head back to schools that will have to toil under the pressure of deep state budget cuts, teachers and parents say they remain uncertain how much they’ll have to pick up the slack in terms of classroom supplies.

Foundations, parent volunteer organizations and teachers have historically supplemented classroom supplies, but with near unprecedented state funding cuts bearing down this year, their role may have to become more prominent.

At the same time, the recession has impacted household budgets, throwing their ability to backfill state funding cuts in doubt.

A 2009 National Retail Federation by BIGresearch survey found that the still shaky economy is pushing parents to buy only what their child needs, to use coupons where they can and immediately snap up the items on sale.

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Lynn Miyamoto, Glendale PTA Council president, said she is not certain where the short-comings will be felt.

“The school district hasn’t told us everything that will be cut yet,” she said.

The PTA umbrella organization supplies classroom items, but also helps with enrichment programs. Members vote on where to spend the money.

Each school is different in how they submit requests. Some schools have displayed wish lists culled from teachers and principals.

“Last year, we began to push back on some of the requests from some of the principals,” Miyamoto said.

Last year, the Crescenta Valley High School PTA purchased a new sound system for the school’s cafeteria. Miyamoto said PTA members and school staff prioritized requests before deciding to purchase the system.

Foundations and the PTA council usually concentrate on larger items, while parents bring supplies like glue sticks and tissue boxes. Many teachers spend their own money to supply their classrooms that make the school day easier for students.

“Glendale teachers are committed to ensuring the very best public education for every student,” Tami Carlson, president of the Glendale Teachers Assn., said in a statement Thursday.

“As a result, most have been spending money out-of-pocket for supplies for years. The most recent cuts to public education in California have exacerbated this persistent problem.”

Miyamoto said that some teachers are using creative ways to supply their classroom. Last year, her child’s high school teacher gave extra credit to anyone who helped fill the supply of tissue boxes.

The National Retail Federation survey found that even with the bargains, consumers are planning to spend less on school supplies this year. That will make every glue stick and tissue count.

“We will be working closely with the administration on helping where we can,” Miyamoto said.

In the past, while Glendale Unified School District officials were appreciative of the parent support, they made it clear that because they were a public school, they did not require parents to pay for supplies.

School district officials could not be reached Thursday.

Still, Miyamoto said, it has been a long-standing tradition for parents to help with small items where they can.


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