Cost of back-to-school supplies going up in Georgia

The cost of back-to-school supplies such as crayons, pens and paper and new uniforms is on the rise, while the list of classroom items school districts are asking parents to provide is growing.

The average family with children in grades K-12 plans to spend $630.36 on electronics, apparel and other school needs, according to a recently released survey by the National Retail Federation. That cost is down from $669.28 last year, though average back-to-school spending has grown 42 percent over the past 10 years. Total spending is expected to reach $24.9 billion.

In addition to providing the basics for students, parents are expected to contribute more items to schools. Products like Clorox wipes, paper towels, Ziploc bags and copier paper used for class handouts – items once typically provided by the schools – are now being foisted on parents due to school budget constraints, education experts say.

“This year is still one of the highest spending amounts in survey history,” said Kathy Allen, a spokeswoman for the retail federation. “It may be down, but it is still very much higher than even a few years ago.”

Georgia and other states have significantly slashed education funding in the past decade or so, putting a greater financial strain on school systems, which pass on the burden to parents with ballooning school supply lists. In Georgia, where nearly 62 percent of students receive free and reduced-price lunches, many financially pinched families need help paying for the burgeoning back-to-school costs and must often get assistance from faith-based and other charitable groups.

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