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Saturday, October 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mead School District steps up to buy some basic supplies for third year in row

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Shopping for school supplies in late summer is a rite of passage for most students that can also be a financial burden for families. For the third year, the Mead School District is buying all the basic school supplies for every elementary student in the district.

“We had all our schools hand us their school supplies lists,” said district finance director Mathew Knott. “We realized each was asking for something different.”

The district decided to standardize the lists and step up and buy the supplies, Knott said.

Items such as glue sticks, glue, crayons, markers, erasers, pencils, colored pencils, tissues, highlighters, scissors and rulers are purchased by the district. “It’s just the initial supply for the beginning of the school year,” said Carla Scott, the district’s executive assistant for business services.

Families are still expected to purchase paper, notebooks, composition books, backpacks and other specialized supplies, Scott said. Parents will not be asked to fill the gap if a classroom runs out of something during the school year.

“The building will also supplement if they get low,” she said.

But some of those supplies, such as rulers and scissors, can be reused and won’t have to be purchased every year, Scott said. “They’re considered classroom supplies,” she said.

The district recognized that families with several children were spending a lot of money on school supplies, Scott said. “When you have four kids, the cost of putting all that together is really kind of high,” she said.

Students will still need to bring some supplies and each school has a list on its website. The list varies by grade and by school. For example, a kindergartner at Brentwood Elementary needs only four things – a backpack, tennis shoes for P.E., a composition notebook and four tubs of baby wipes.

The list for sixth grade is longer and includes a backpack, tennis shoes, five spiral notebooks, dividers, a zippered binder, college-ruled notebook paper, a pencil sharpener, a pencil pouch and inexpensive headphones or earbuds.

The district spends between $120,000 and $150,000 on basic school supplies every year, Knott said. “The funding essentially would come from the levy,” he said. “In the grand scheme of a $130 million budget it’s really a small part. It really comes down to making it a priority.”

The thinking was also that families that support schools shouldn’t also have to pay for school supplies, he said. “Our community members are already supporting our levies and bonds,” he said.

The district is expecting close to 5,000 students in grades K-6 this year. The program is limited to elementary grades only. Older students are not required to buy items like glue and crayons and must buy their own paper and notebooks, Knott said.

“You don’t need all those basic supplies,” he said.

Information about the school supply program is distributed to current students at the end of each school year. Social media posts and information on the district’s website is used to notify new students of the policy.

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