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Unified School District of De Pere seeks to alleviate school supply cost concerns

Posted at 10:26 PM, Aug 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-14 23:26:22-04

DE PERE (NBC 26) — School supply shopping can be a challenging annual expense for families, especially with inflation above 3.2 percent again in July.

While teachers say they attempt to keep items on the supply list to a minimum, parents contend that the costs remain in the triple digits, per student.

De Pere School District holds free supply shop for families in need

The Unified School District of De Pere held an invitation-only supply shop Monday for families who may struggle to afford supplies.

"Organizations here in De Pere give us donations so we go out and buy all the supplies that are needed for back to school," district social worker Michelle Dahlke said.

Dahlke said families in the district can reach out to her office for assistance with supplies.

"I know a lot of families are struggling more than ever right now," Dahlke said.

She said De Pere is one of several local districts with similar programs.

"I just want families to know that they can reach out to the school social workers and we can help provide those resources for those very expensive items," Dahlke said.

Supply costs stack up

Purchasing each item from Altmayer Elementary's second -grade list at the De Pere Walmart would cost $103.50 — without tax, when selecting the cheapest option for each item.

"I remember when folders and notebooks were 10 cents," Dahlke said. "They're not 10 cents anymore."

Parents on Facebook expressed their concern about the pricey supply lists.

"I’m in over $300 for school supplies and not even 3/4 of the way through the list for a kindergartner, first grader and 6th grader," one wrote.

"$150 per kid for just shoes and supplies," another wrote. "That’s bare minimum."

A third parent pointed out a specific item that appears on many lists.

"The school lists I saw all contained post it notes," the parent wrote on social media. "What do kids use these for or are they for the teachers?"

Eight of ten supply lists from Altmayer Elementary and Fairview School included "sticky notes" or "Post-it notes." Two packs of such notes from Walmart totaled $11.94 — the most expensive items on the second-grade list.

Dahlke said graphing calculators are another expensive item on the lists.

Teachers in Walmart and on social media say they do their best to keep lists as affordable as possible.

"We are told to keep our list to to the bare minimum so parents don't have to spend too much," teacher Kori Engelbrecht wrote.