Arkansas schools offer ways to help parents save time, money

Pulaski Academy says parents pay a fee and then the school provides the needed supplies for the school year. (Photo: KATV)

According to the National Retail Federation, parents spent over $100 on back to school shopping per child last year.

Pulaski Academy is trying something new this year - parents pay a fee and the school provides the needed supplies.

"We preordered all the supplies for each student, so that when they come back to school, they'll have these on their desk,” said President Matt Walsh.

The amount of money parents pay is based on their child’s grade level.

"They range from $50, to $70 for the entire package," said Don Swanson, the head of finance.

They tried this in years past, but learned it put a strain on the staff to get the items and put it all together for each student. This year they decided to outsource the work.

"We found this company, they do a great job working with us, the customer service is really good, the prices are good also. So we came up with an affordable way to do it, and a very convenient way," Swanson said.

But P.A. isn't the first to use this idea. Schools in Cabot have been doing this for several years.

"We do a $25 supply fee. So, parents pay that at open house or back to school time," explained Stacy Allen, principal of Southside Elementary.

They go about it a different way, allowing teachers to use the money and get the needed supplies on their own.

"They take care of notebooks, pencils, erasers, binders, anything that students might need," Principal Allen explained. "Teachers are able to bargain shop and really stretch those dollars hitting all those back to school sales."

Being a public school, they've found ways to support families who can't afford to pay it.

"If parents ever have an issue with paying that, all we ask is that they reach out to their school counselor, because we have people that can help take care of that," Principal Allen said.

Both schools feel this is an effective technique, and not only with cost.

"We tried to think of the families in two different factors of convenience and value, and those were the things we took most into consideration when making this happen," Swanson said.

The supply fee is only used for elementary school kids at Pulaski Academy and elementary through middle school in Cabot.

They explained high school students take too many different classes to be able to generalize the supplies.

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