Back to school: Are supply lists getting excessive?

Back to school: Are supply lists getting excessive?

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - School starts up again in less than a month and if you're a parent, you're sure to drop some money on school supplies... if you haven't already.

East Texas parents have expressed concerns about the lists getting longer and more specific.

"Ninety-six pencils," says East Texas grandmother Melba Baxter, as she reads over a 2013-2014 school supply list.

Melba has 14 grandchildren. She doesn't buy school supplies for all of them, but for the ones she does, it adds up fast.

"Seventy dollars and one cent for a second grader. That's what I spent today," she says.

Melba says she knows her grandchildren won't use as many school supplies as the list tells her to buy.

"I think we're not treated fairly when we're not told, 'You're not just buying for your child. You're buying for other children,'" she says.

The school supply lists that tell her not to label her grand kids' supplies say that loud and clear.

"It tells me my kids are not going to get what I send up there,"  says Melba.

After buying everything on the school supply list for three different school districts, Melba is frustrated.

"I understand a lot of people can't afford it, but if they would come to me and say, 'Can you buy this child their school supplies?' I'd say, 'Of course I would,' but don't lie to me and tell me my child has to have this," she says.

We took a look at the supply lists from schools all across East Texas.

One school requests that every 5th grader brings four 200 count boxes of Kleenex brand tissues. If there are just 60 kids in the entire 5th grade, they'll have 48,000 tissues.

Another school asks kindergartners to bring four boxes of 24 count Crayola brand crayons. That equates to 96 crayons per child. If there are 20 children in that one class, then they'll have have 1,920 crayons to use this year.

According to another school supply list, each 2nd grader needs 10 Elmer's brand glue sticks.  If there are 20 children in that class, then they'll have an estimated 200 glue sticks for the entire class. That is more glue sticks than there are days in the school year. The same list also asked for four ounces of Elmer's liquid glue.

"What are they doing with glue sticks? They're supposed to be teaching these children. These kids are in the 2nd grade. They're not supposed to be gluing. They're supposed to be writing and reading," says Melba.

There's no doubt that teachers have an important job, and often have to pay for their own supplies, too.

"This is a list of suggested supplies, and we know that parents who have multiple students...this can be very costly," says Tyler Independent School District Spokesperson Dawn Parnell.

Parnell says TISD's supply list is more along the lines of a wish list.

"We understand if a student is unable to have some of those supplies. We will make sure we're able to accomplish the task that they have with what is present," she says.

Still, many parents wish these lists would be revised and loose the specificity.

"Three packages #2 pencils, not Dixon brand pencils because they are not quality pencils," reads Melba from a school supply list.

Melba is also interested in an explanation for one list that asks for supplies and then a $10 supply fee.

A week from Friday is Tyler IS and Brookshire's school supply drive, Stuff the Bus. People in the Tyler area are asked to bring school supply donations to the Brookshire's grocery stores on 5th Street, Rice Road and the Bergfeld shopping center.

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