HAMPTON ROADS--In one week, public school students in Hampton Roads go back to class and with them more supplies than one person can carry.
To some parents, the school supply lists are getting longer and more expensive. Some wonder why the lists stray from the basics and include items like Clorox wipes and a box of gallon-sized Ziploc baggies.
Second-graders at John Dey Elementary in Virginia Beach need eight glue sticks each. Kindergartners at Camelot Elementary in Chesapeake need 24 crayons every nine weeks.
Carol Kimbrough shops for her seven-year-old grandchild in Norfolk and says she understands budget cuts over the years have shifted the burden onto parents. Still, she's surprised at the length of the list.
"My baby is 20 years old, so I was out shopping for my granddaughter who's 7 and the cost difference is huge. Back in the day, we spent very little money. Last week, I spent $101 and I still haven't gotten her backpack," says Kimbrough.
The math behind school supplies suggests a lesson in subtraction. Some school districts are given next to nothing to buy scissors, crayons or even colored construction paper.
One second grade list in Newport News asks for two boxes of colored pencils, which includes one for the resource teacher. School spokeswoman Michelle Price says each elementary teacher is given $50 a school year to help buy supplies for the classroom. Beyond that, teachers come up with supply lists that are meant to be a suggestion, not mandatory.
"It's not by any means something that parents need to worry about," Price said.
Newport News and most school districts in Hampton Roads put all the supplies that parents purchase in one pile which are then distributed among everyone, including students who can't afford supplies.
"They will share some of the supplies, so parents shouldn't feel that they have to get everything on the list," Price said.
A spokesperson for Suffolk Schools says the system relies on donations and teachers get nothing to pick up the slack.
Chesapeake elementary teachers fare much better with $150 for the year.
In Virginia Beach, the teachers come up with the supply list and are encouraged to include what one student would need for the year.
The growing lists aren't just about cutbacks and affordability. Price says it's about evolving teaching styles to include more hands-on learning.
"After the teacher completes an assignment, then he or she may ask the students to do another activity to accompany that assignment, so they can begin to connect real-world experiences."