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August 25, 2010

DiNapoli: School Districts Can Help Families
Save on Back-to-School Supplies

New Yorkers plan to spend up to $192 million for back-to-school supplies this year, with 64 percent of this spending ($123 million) driven by school supply lists from their children’s schools, according to estimates in a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. DiNapoli said that by examining and implementing various purchasing and sharing options, school districts may be able to help families save $47 million a year on those supplies.

“Back-to-school spending can be very expensive for New York families,” DiNapoli said. “The good news is that school districts can explore alternatives and replicate best practices that could save families millions on school supplies. These are tough times. School districts should be looking for ways to lower back-to-school costs for students and their families.”

DiNapoli’s report found that the average family in the Northeast will spend an estimated $107 on school supplies this fall. The report noted that parents shopping with long lists of back-to-school supplies face a number of disadvantages, including higher per-unit costs, wasted money if parents purchase the wrong items and the time and expense of shopping for each child.
DiNapoli is encouraging all school districts to explore options that could save taxpayers money, including:
  • Purchase in Bulk. The savings associated with bulk quantity purchases versus individual items was approximately 40 percent, which could generate estimated savings of $46.7 million statewide.
  • Seek Assistance to Offer Supply Bundling. Many school districts have recognized that bulk purchasing is more effective and offer supply bundle services which, for a set fee, will deliver the requested supplies to student desks by the first day of school.
  • Consider Cooperative Purchasing. School districts often have greater purchasing power through the use of contracts and bid agreements. For example, school districts can utilize the state contract to purchase paper at 40 percent less than the retail bulk price.
  • Reuse Teaching Materials. Items such as rulers, compasses and scissors can be reused and shared within a classroom for all sections of a class and in subsequent years until they wear out.
  • Institute a Maximum Cost Cap. School districts should consider limiting the total cost of the supply list.
  • Carefully Review Supply Lists and Improve Communication. By improving coordination between teachers, supply lists can be standardized, so only necessary items will be purchased.
  • Make Lists Available to Parents as Early as Possible. As the first day of school approaches, options for taking advantage of sale prices and back-to-school special offers decrease dramatically. A list that costs $25 to fill in July may cost twice that at the end of August. By getting supply list information to parents early, school districts can help minimize the cost to families.

Click here for a copy of the report.



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