How Many Public Schools Do Not Have a School Supply List?

Updated on August 11, 2014
S.H. asks from Santa Barbara, CA
20 answers

Does your school provide the supplies for the students or do parents get a list?

Some schools ask for money instead, so if no list are you 'expected' to donate money? What would you prefer?

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answers from Minneapolis on

I do my best to make this a fun back-to-school ritual, building the anticipation of a whole new year of school. Who wouldn't like to go pick out new pencils, clean notebooks, and fun colored folders while talking about the possibilities (new teachers, new subjects, new friends) this school year will bring.

I'm a little amazed at the time and energy spent on this site bemoaning this small yearly task.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

We're in a poor district. They give no list and ask for no money. They provide supplies. Nothing fancy, but my kids get folders, paper, pencils...whatever they need. The teachers are very low paid and they do not have to buy them. This school goes through 5th grade and has a very modest building. A grassy area for recess with very small play yard. No stadium or anything. Cost of living and taxes are very low. I was shocked to see they even have a computer lab and great library. As far as I can tell, they budget their modest money very well. Although it is criminal how little we prioritize education and pay teachers in this country imo.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Grand Forks on

At our school it is up to the classroom teacher. Some teachers give the students a list of supplies they need to purchase, other teachers ask for a cheque for $35 and then buys all of the supplies for the class. I am OK either way. I am a good shopper, so I know I can usually pick up the supplies myself for less than $30, but it is nice to just give the teacher a cheque and not have to worry about it myself.

ETA: We get our school supply list with report cards in June, so we have all summer to get what we need.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I like what my son's second grade is doing: just asking for a check from each family for $40. I think this gives the teachers the freedom to buy more of what they are needing (and it could change from year to year, depending on projects-- the second-grade does a lot of walk-to reading/math and class-sharing) and spend less on supplies they may already have in full stock.

In previous years, we have had the chance to use Schoolhouse Supplies, which is a company that gets supply lists from teachers and organizes a kit which is delivered directly to the teacher; parents can buy this online and cut their cost considerably. Having had a preschool, I know how much a lot of this stuff costs retail and it's a good deal. There is usually, though, another supply list with that for tissues, ziplock bags, hand sanitizer, etc which we have to get anyway.

I've no problem with community supplies, either. I want the teachers to have the supplies they need to do their job and the kids to have what they need to learn. Our district has had to fight for more paid teaching positions, etc and while I'm not 100% happy with the district's decisions or admin, I'm not willing to make the kids pay the price for that. We are so fortunate to have our son in a school where most (not all, but most) families can afford these supplies. That said, I'm a big believer in education equity and so if some other schools (Title 1, lower income etc) have more supply costs on their ledger to cover the social disadvantages they are dealing with, I'm fine with paying more on our end.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Our district provides a list....and then the individual schools provide a different list. So last year I bought everything on the district list on tax free weekend and then two weeks later got the school list when I registered my son and had to go back and buy a whole bunch of other stuff. By then some of the supplies were sold out. I also didn't know they had pre-paid school packs I could buy until the day before school started. It was a mess. This year I'm just buying the school pack to save the hassle. The packs are a little more expensive, but at least I don't have to battle the crowds, so it's worth it to me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We do not have school lists in our country. Except once at the beginning of the year the teacher requested that every student bring in a box of tissues so that she had a good supply for little noses throughout the year.

While the school provides all necessary supplies, the children also like to have their own special pencil cases and 'cool' stationery. But this is only personal choice.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

We get a list the first week of school. Pretty much pencils, glue sticks and scissors. If the kids don't have them, the teacher provides them (I assume the school covers it, we are a wealthy district). We are not asked to donate money. We pay money - school taxes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Our last school district sent home a VERY detailed, very long, name brand list of supplies. We moved 4 miles down the road to a new school district and they take "donations" only. I don't care either way. Now I email the teachers and ask if there is anything they need to let me know. Before I just waited until a couple weeks after school started and bought everything on the list at 75% off if we were having a low income month.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

There are always generic lists at the stores for us to shop off of, and then the teachers add anything special they want on parent teacher night right before school starts.


answers from Huntington on

Our school just sent us an email, in response to all the parent's requests for the "back to school shopping list, right now!", that the schools in Utah are not allowed to send a required supply list, and that if we wanted to send donations, we are welcome to.

We are not expected to donate anything, then. I usually send a bag of supplies for each child, anyway. The teacher can usually use them, and if not, we will at home.



answers from Dallas on

Our schools each send out a list per grade level for that school. Grade 4 teachers get together at ABC Elementary and make their list. That goes out to Wal Mart, Target, etc and is also on the schools website. We can also purchase the premade packs from the school. I always prefer to buy my own. I can get it cheaper and get what I want. And I don't buy the spirals with TMNT on them or Spiderman. Our supplies go into a community closet for that grade and my kids have never cared anyway what is on their supplies.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Our schools send out the lists to Walmart and other businesses that carry stuff for school. We go in and get the list then shop.

You can also buy online now and they'll send the stuff directly to the school with kiddo's name on it.

Never had a school expect money to buy the supplies. Don't know how I'd feel about that. Many of the people in my town live on minimum wage jobs to support their families and there isn't enough money to buy a lot of junk.

I might not have cash to send to the school. I can buy a ream of copy paper in January, a couple dozen pencils in February and a couple of boxes of nice crayons. In March I can buy erasers and 2-4 note book paper packages. April could be a new backpack. Then in May it could be scissors and glue and Kleenex and Hand Sanitizer.

The point is all supplies that are general will eventually be used. If you have a couple of 1 inch 3 ring binders on a book shelf, packages of notebook paper, copy paper, etc...already purchased and stored then when it comes time to buy school supplies it won't be a hundred dollars all at once.


answers from Washington DC on

I had a very long list for both of my kids (2nd and 4th grade). My total was about $200 including lunch boxes (not on the list but it was needed)



answers from Boston on

This drives me bonkers because we don't get "the lists" until just before school starts or after, when everything is sold out. Grrr.

Our lists vary by teacher. Very rarely, you get an organized teacher who sends a list home with her future students with the report card on the last day of school. Most others send a letter to your house over the summer, and a few don't give you a list until the first day of school or even back to school night, a week after school starts.

In high school it's even worse - they NEVER get lists before they start classes and the supply lists vary by teacher so we're shopping off of the whims of 6 different people times 2 kids. You'd think that by high school the kids could use more or less whatever works for themselves but no, you have those persnickity types who will make it a homework grade to make sure that your child has a green notebook and a blue notebook, both college-ruled, both one subject, or a 7-pocket accordion file just for their class, or a 4-color ball point pen or something else ludicrous.

At the end of the day I don't care how much it costs and how it gets done, I just wish I had the luxury of buying over the summer instead of staring at the empty shelves in Target on September 5th wondering where the heck I'm going to find this stuff. Facebook blows up the first week of school with parents sharing their finds - Walgreens has the black and white marble composition books! If you're looking for poly folders, head to CVS on Washington St! Anyone know where I can find a soft-sided pencil case...junior's is hard plastic and the teacher insists on those small plastic zipper pouches?!

We look like lunatics...



answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter's school had 2 lists (needed supplies and a "wish") and also asked for monetary donations for treats for the kids. Her class did a lot of crafts for holidays/Mother's Day/Father's Day.

I liked having a list to work with, but could see where money would be easier (so teachers can get the exact item needed for class).



answers from Chicago on

our schools have a supply list. they are given out to parents in a mailing / emailing but are also hanging at the walmart, target, meijer, kmart stores. now having said that some of the schools have started this thing where you can buy your kids school supplies from the school you pay "x" amount and then the supplies are given to the kids first day of school. but you don't ge tthe discount of 25 cent box of crayones, pick your folders etc. you are just handed a bag with supplies. We never really took the kids and let them do the whole pick your stuff thing. I would go buy all the supplies and the only choices they really had were do you want to pick the red folder or blue lol. i did let them pick the lunch box and backpack. but my kids were never the ones screaming about I want the ninja turle $3 spiral instead of the 10 cent one. because i didn't really give them the choice.


answers from Austin on

Heck I recall purchasing supplies even when I was in school. Back in the 60's and 70's. At the time, Boxes of Tissues were not included. And things like antibiotic gels, ziploc bags.. ect were not requested, because they had not been invented, but I recall every year purchasing school supplies and the parents grousing about it back then, .

Our district is large, heck I found out our school district has to maintain for square feet than the University of Texas and UT his one of the wealthiest Universities in the country and they can afford it because they have the budget to maintain it. .

We are just able to bandaid fix and repair and maintain all of our schools and other facilities. And then we need to be able to pay the teachers and staff. Provide buses drivers, pay the high utilities because as you can imagine the air conditioners are used 9 moths out of the year, non stop.



answers from Los Angeles on

we were mailed a list of appreciated donations but They are certainly not required. I hang onto the list and buy things throughout the year so its not all hit at once. its just how I roll and something is better than nothing.



answers from Little Rock on

We do not have a list. The PTO buys all necessary school supplies. But we have way too many fundraisers throughout the year. I would prefer to donate money than have excess cookie dough, candles, etc. I am not big on fundraising and we don't live anywhere near our family so I pretty much buy it all.



answers from Albuquerque on

Our school requests money, $30.00 per child. I'd much rather fork over a check to the teacher than go shopping for them, saves me time and energy. They post a list of what is bought with the money. They also work with parents who can't pay for it all at once.

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