BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — Bastrop resident Kylie DeFrance knows all too well the expensive costs of back-to-school supplies. Entering her eighth year of teaching this August, she’s used to spending hundreds of dollars out of pocket on paper, crayons, tissues and other daily items student use.
This year though, inflation levels have exacerbated those costs. A 2022 Deloitte survey found families will spend an average of $661 per child this year on back-to-school supplies and apparel — up 8% compared to 2021 expenditures.
Seeing these rising costs paired with teachers’ traditionally lower salaries, DeFrance launched a social campaign on her Bastrop Nextdoor group to help fulfill teachers’ wish lists. To date, 33 teachers have applied for wish list assistance, with 18 lists fulfilled in full.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-year teacher or if you’re a veteran teacher: There’s a need every single year for supplies, pencils, papers, markers, books. You name it, we need it,” she said.
And while some families might not notice all the cost increases, teachers feel those price hikes as they craft their wish lists. For example, composition notebooks traditionally cost 25 cents. Now, the cheapest options are 50 cents, while others can cost up to nearly $4. Crayons have gone the same route, up from 25 cents to about $1.50 sans sale prices.
Typically, DeFrance said most teachers create their wish lists with the hope of it lasting the entire school year. Sometimes, major class projects might require a mid-year refill, which many teachers are left supplying out of pocket. Others might restock their lists at the end of the school year to help replace book titles that were lost or damaged or to add new ones to a classroom’s library.
“It is crazy insane how much inflation has affected schools and classrooms and teachers,” she said. “We don’t get paid a lot, our salaries are very low …. but inflation is a huge problem, and you will see on a lot of those wish lists, it is just basic things, very basic things that [teachers] need.”
Some of the most common items on wish lists this year include:
- Sensory stickers, poppers, fidget spinners
- Glue sticks
- Laminating sheets
- Astro bright paper
Many new teachers are also requesting decorations, carts, scissors, pencil containers, posters, highlighters and other initial supplies needed to stock a new classroom.
DeFrance said she’s grateful members of the Bastrop community have helped pitch in money or supplies for new and seasoned teachers, especially as everyone navigates current inflation levels. She said it gives teachers the opportunities to create a warm and inviting environment for them to engage with students and give them the educational experience they deserve.
“I just want to be an ally and a supporter and help them, because it’s not just for them,” she said. “It’s for the kids which, come on, they’re our future.”
What back-to-school resources are available in Central Texas?
To help support teachers in and beyond Texas, check out Get Your Teach On’s Clear the List campaign to help fulfill classroom wish lists.
Locally, several school districts in Central Texas are hosting back-to-school supply drives for families.
Hutto ISD will host a Back to School Rally on Aug. 6 from 9-11 a.m. at Hutto Memorial Stadium. Free backpacks and school supplies will be provided to all Hutto ISD students, with officials adding they expect to serve 1,000 families.
Liberty Hill ISD
On Aug. 6, Liberty Hill ISD will partner with Community Pathways Organization for its back-to-school event, running from 8 a.m. to noon at CrossTracks Church. Free athletic shoes, backpacks and school supplies will be available to low-income families within LHISD, with sizes available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Lockhart ISD will provide supplies for students from Pre-K through 12th grade. Families of students in grades Pre-K through fifth grade will only need to buy a backpack with the remaining supplies covered.
Families of students in grades six through 12 will get “basic school supplies” this year, ISD officials said.
“As secondary students take multiple classes, there may be unique requests by some teachers for certain classes after the school year begins that parents will need to obtain, but they will be given basic school supplies that are applicable for all classes,” officials said in an email. “Parents should also plan to obtain backpacks.”
More information on the supply drive will be provided closer to the start of the school year.