It’s back to school season and districts across the metro region are returning to class. However, before students are seated at their desk for the new school year, parents are feeling the pain of getting children ready for learning.
According to the National Retail Federation, back-to-school costs for the 2022-2023 school year are continuing to rise. In 2019, the average cost per family was around $697. That amount is already scary.
Jump into the current school year, and the National Retail Federation is estimating the average family has to spend about $864 to prepare their children to learn.
This is happening in a year where inflation is making every household watch spending. Extra nights out — not going to happen. Some extra clothing this year — Sorry, can’t afford it.
With three children myself, we have two in elementary school. From the folders, pens, pencils, crayons, glue and whatever else is on the supply list — everything is higher. A pen at Walmart costs more than $3. Go to Target, and you pay even more.
Backpacks seem much higher this year. I used to spend about $10. Now, we are spending a lot more. I will admit my son wants a specific Avalanche backpack, but still my mouth dropped at the high costs.
In talking to a mother about the class supply list, she sighed and said she just doesn’t know how she is going to be able to do it. She has several children, and the supply list gets bigger every year. She added that this is on top of her rent going up again.
Clothing and shoes are much higher this year. Looking at shoes is crazy. My 8-year-old has hit a growth spurt and has grown out of all but one pair of shoes. I have waited until closer to the school year to get him new ones. While I am not the mom who thinks he needs a pair every day, he does need more than one pair.
I was hoping to pay a little more for his main pair and just get a second pair that is cheaper. Let’s just say I am still shopping around to find two pairs of shoes that are not outrageously priced for my fourth-grader.
My soon-to-be first-grader has grown five inches in two years. We are in the market for pants and shorts for him.
To this day, I will always be glad my mother taught me the value of clearance shopping. I know how to watch those sales and purchase when I see the deals rather than just paying full price because it’s that time of year.
In growing up, we were poor for several years. I know now just how much my mom struggled at the start of each school year to clothe all four of us and get the supplies the schools wanted us to have.
Besides the worry of how to make ends meet in getting school supplies, clothing, shoes and other technological needs each district has separately — Parents this year have another issue. The free lunches that were being provided through federal funding for the last two years is gone.
We are already getting notices from the school that parents have to put money in accounts to make sure they can buy lunch the first week of school.
For many families, this service over the last two years has been extremely helpful in feeding children both breakfast and lunch.
No matter where we look as parents — It feels we are getting hit with high bills that eventually many of us may not be able to pay.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.