School supplies fee causes 'stress' on low-income families
Moncton Headstart has helped 240 families with school supplies this year
Teachers may be placing an unnecessary burden on low-income families by charging flat fees for school supplies, according to one charitable organization.
There is a growing trend for parents to pay a lump sum so teachers can buy supplies for the classroom in bulk.
Many parents prefers this approach, arguing it is a cheaper and easier way to get school supplies for their children.
But Lorie-Ann Carson, the co-ordinator of the parents’ program at Moncton Headstart, said it may simplify the lives of some parents but it is putting a financial burden on others.
Some teachers are requesting $40 to purchase school supplies for each student in their classroom.
"When you have three children, that's a $120, at the minimum, that you need to have and when you have a strict budget, that's hard," she said.
Moncton Headstart offers a program where parents can visit the organization and pick up school supplies.
However, the charitable organization does not offer cash so they cannot help families in classes where teachers are requesting a flat fee.
"If they are looking for community support, which of course we are trying to support them, money is not something we would give, so they have to come up with that on their own and it causes some stress," Carson said.
The school supply purchasing policy varies across the province and inside districts.
Officials from the Anglophone East School District, for instance, say teachers decide which method to use.
And the teachers try to make starting school as easy as possible on families, according to the district.
Parent Tamara McKee said she prefers paying the flat fee.
"It was more economical for us to only have to send in the $40, the year I bought supplies it actually cost me $70," she said.
McKee said having teachers buy supplies in bulk also evens the playing field in the classroom.
"That way the kids are all getting the same thing and there's no competition in the class or anything."
As the return to school draws closer, Moncton Headstart will continue to provide some school supplies to those parents who need it.
Carson said more than 240 children have already come in to use the service that gives school supplies to students.