The Rome school district’s decision not to require pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade families to purchase school supplies was detailed Monday by district Superintendent Peter C. Blake.
The decision had been noted last spring during preparations for the district’s 2018-19 budget that took effect July 1.
But “despite speaking publicly about the topic and the information being provided through multiple mediums, there still remains some confusion over the purchasing of school supplies” for students in pre-K to grade 6, Blake said Monday in his blog on the district’s website.
Blake explained “due to significant disparities between classroom requests, numerous complaints about consistency of availability of supply lists, and understanding the challenge that purchasing supplies can place on some families...the district made the decision to include school supplies for students” in the 2018-2019 budget.
Students in pre-K to grade 6 “will not be asked to purchase supplies or be provided with any kind of required list of supplies,” Blake said. But “any parent wishing to purchase supplies for their children may still do so if they desire.”
Also, Blake noted, “we have an abundance of backpacks available through donations in previous years.” If parents are in need of a backpack, they are asked to contact their child’s school to make arrangements to obtain one, he added.
About $150,000 was set aside in the district budget for elementary supplies, Blake said Tuesday in elaborating on the decision. The district “has always allocated monies for supplies,” but is “just using it differently this year,” he commented. In addition, “due to volume discounts with vendors,” the district will not “spend anywhere near the budgeted amount on school supplies,” he remarked.
The district will be “purchasing the items that traditionally would have been placed on the student supply lists,” Blake observed. This can include such items as tissues, crayons, markers, colored pencils, spiral notebooks and folders, among others.
When asked about elementary teachers who in prior years may have used their own money on school supplies, Blake said “I have been in the business for 20-plus years and have never known a teacher not to spend at least $500 of their own money every year. While I was in the classroom, it would be a common occurrence to spend $1,000-plus of my own money on my students, and I am certain that for some teachers this is still the case in Rome and beyond.”
Blake added, “there has never been a need for it, it’s just one of the many great things that teachers have always done” for their students and families. “I would not anticipate that changing, because it’s simply something that our staff and staffs in many school districts do for their kids and families.”
The first day of school for the 2018-19 year is Sept. 6.