How would you spend $202.96?  New clothes?  Groceries?  Crazy Hot Summer Electric Bill?  Any of those things could produce such a bill.

I spent it on school supplies for my three children.

That is a lot of paper, pencils, folders, markers, paper towels, dry erase markers, tissues, and spirals.  A lot.  And, being a teacher, I know we need supplies.  I also know that $202.96 probably balances out when you consider it covers the entire year’s worth of coloring, filing, math problem solving, and sneezing.    But, it’s also just a lot of money.  As a parent, I would hope that all those supplies are put to good use, and make a difference in my child’s learning.  But, as a teacher, I will tell you that there are a few unopened boxes of map pencils at the end of every year.  If I teach for the next twenty years, I might have rulers coming out of my ears.  And, I could probably give every student a new pencil every week, and still have leftovers.  On the other hand, I will be out of glue sticks, note cards and tissues before the Holiday Break, and at that point I either become an Olympic Problem Solver or a Frequent Wal Mart Shopper.

The Solution?   I would rather have parents give their funds directly to the school and allow the school to make the purchases necessary for classes, including the binders, spirals, baby wipes, and gallon baggies necessary for keeping all the pieces and parts organized and together.  In addition, if a teacher was already well stocked in say, the ruler department, then those funds could be used for alternative supplies, like extra note cards, electric pencil sharpeners, or air fresheners.  Yes, air fresheners.  Kids can be stinky when they return to classrooms from the outside world–no matter if they are cute, cuddly kindergartners or almost-grown-up-seniors.  Stinky happens.

But for now, this year, I’ve spent my nest egg on school supplies, and will send my hoodlums to Meet the Teacher Night with those supplies in tow.  Maybe by next year the school will adopt a “pay for two students’ school supplies, get the third for free” policy, or the lists will be smaller, or my School Supply Fund idea will come to pass.  Otherwise, I need to start saving my pennies now for next year’s supply shopping.