HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, MN – “You know that I am opposed to fees of any kind, because I think it’s a horrible, hidden tax,” Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School Board Member Charles Bush said at the July 27 work session.
Bush was specifically referring to school supplies – things like backpacks, folders, and pencil boxes – which each student purchases before the start of the school year.
The lists vary per grade level.
High school students, for example, are asked to bring a USB drive, calculator with trigonometry functions, and gym clothes, among other items. Kindergarten through second-grade students each have a $20 fee, which the school uses to purchase many items in bulk.
At the end of the school year, students take their supplies home with them.
Bush stated that he believes it is the school’s obligation to supply everything the student needs, a stance other board members were concerned about.
“I get your compassion, but I don’t think it would have as much of an impact as you think,” Board Member Joanie Kocher told Bush. “I’ve never heard anybody else but you complain about supplies.”
Board Member Michelle Heuer said that for her kids, going to the store to purchase school supplies helped them get excited for school.
“It gives students a sense of personal contribution,” she said. “Those who can’t afford it, we find ways to make it happen.”
Superintendent Brad Sellner agreed, noting that buying the items gives students a sense of ownership, and it encourages them to take care of their supplies.
“If a student loses their pencils or breaks their crayons, what then? Should the school keep providing more?” Sellner asked.
Board Member Jesse Tintes said he agrees that students should supply their own personal items, but noted that some items on the list – such as Kleenex and napkins – are shared by the class.
“My kid might never use a Kleenex,” he said, and suggested that the school consider possibly purchasing these types of items.
Sellner said it would be difficult to make a change so close to the start of this school year. The board plans to revisit the topic before the start of the 2016-17 school year.
Find out what else the board talked about in the Monday, Aug. 3 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here to subscribe online or in print.