News flash — the cost of education is soaring in this country. Every time you look, the price tag for education is going up and up and it threatens to bankrupt families despite the many advantages it brings.
No, I’m not talking about college. I’m talking about the constant request for money from our kids’ elementary schools.
Don’t get me wrong. I get it. Schools are vastly underfunded and teachers dip into their pockets time and time again to fulfill needs for our kids that the state and local governments refuse to fund. And these are teachers who get a minuscule raise every time Haley’s Comet makes an appearance. It’s a crisis and we’re grateful for the dedication of those teachers and staff who go above and beyond the call of duty to make our children’s education meaningful and worthwhile.
But gee whiz. Every time I turn around the school is dipping into my pockets. Full disclosure — we just sent our youngest off to kindergarten so this is our first foray into the public school system. Many of you are probably saying that this is old news. It’s new to us.
In just the first 6 weeks of school we’ve been hit up for:
* School pictures
* Fund raisers — candles, so far. More to come.
* Money for class parties
* Supplies for the teacher
* Money for the book fair
* Money for two field trips.
* PTA dues
* School t-shirts
That’s not to mention the cost of lunches and Ice Cream Wednesday. Plus, the cost of gifts for the teacher at the holidays and end of the school year. This is what I’ve learned from school in 2015 — it’s costly to send our kid to a free school.
Part of my problem is that I was unprepared. And that’s on me. Here’s how I plan to address it:
* Put money aside. I need to make a separate account for school stuff. It isn’t like I need to start a second college savings account or anything. I simply need to siphon off $15-20 a month to cover us over the course of the year. That will lower my blood pressure significantly when notices from school come home in the mail reminding us that we owe $17 for an upcoming field trip.
* Be selective. My wife and I want our son to enjoy a full, rich and rewarding school career. We want him to get the most from his educational experiences and opportunities. That being said, there are some things that we have to pick and choose to do when it comes to school fund-raisers, etc. If we simply don’t have the money to drop on candles, cookies, gift wrap and raffle tickets then we won’t do it.
* Map it out. Like anything else in life, there is a rhythm to the school year. Now that we’re invested in the school system we can plan ahead for all the different fund-raisers and demands on our dollar. That beats getting hit with a hundred bucks of items during the first month of school.