The cost of returning to Indiana schools has increased. Why?

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LAFAYETTE, Ind. — As families begin to send their children back to school, one thing is on the minds of a growing number of parents: “How much will this year cost?”

With record inflation affecting the cost of goods across the country, families are seeing an increase in the average cost of school supplies, clothing and electronics. Not to mention that the 2022-2023 school year marks the end of federally funded school meals, which families hadn’t had to include in their budgets since the pandemic.

Those concerns are also on the minds of school district leaders in Tippecanoe County.

The Journal & Courier contacted the three school districts to see what programs they could offer for families in need of financial assistance for this upcoming school.

At the time of writing, the West Lafayette Community School Corporation had yet to respond. The article will be updated online when WLCSC responds with a response.

Lafayette School Corp.  Superintendent Les Huddle stands for portrait inside the School Corporation transportation yard, Wednesday, May 20, 2020 in Lafayette.

According to a survey conducted by saving.com, it was found that the average parent expects to spend around $700 on school supplies for the 2022-23 school year.

Add to that the potential cost of student meals, which could be as low as $430 or as high as $684 depending on the school district, and it could potentially cost a family over a thousand dollars per child per year.

Dr. Scott Hanback speaks at a ceremony announcing East Tipp Middle School engineering and technology teacher Sharita Ware as Indiana's 2022 Teacher of the Year on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021 at Lafayette.

Fortunately, Les Huddle, Superintendent of Lafayette School Corporation, and Dr. Scott Hanback, Superintendent of Tippecanoe School Corporation, understand that these costs could become a significant financial burden for many families and highlight several local and federal programs that could help reduce these costs.

School supplies and textbook costs

School supplies and textbook costs are things that most families have probably budgeted for each year. But with the rate of inflation, these costs might fluctuate as the cost of supplies increases.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of goods has indeed increased, with books and school supplies increasing by 3.7%, clothing by more than 5% and stationery by 13%.

To help with school supply costs, the LSC and TSC created a program several years ago to provide every student in their elementary and middle schools with a starter kit of school supplies.

Sue Scott, communications coordinator for TSC, holds one of the supply kits that will be provided to K-8 TSC students.  June 8, 2022

“This is a program that provides literally all of the beginning-of-school supplies needed for every student (K-8) in our schools,” TSC board member Linda Day said during the discussion of TSC’s supply kit program at the TSC School Board meeting in June.

Depending on the district, these kits could distribute up to $100 worth of supplies, providing crayons, notebooks, crayons and other essential items students need.

Textbook fees fluctuate depending on the school year due to the rental system implemented by the two school districts.

Every year, the school updates a subject textbook, and the cost of these new books is spread over several years, almost like a payment plan.

TSC textbook fees this year will range from $115 to $120, while LSC fees will range from $200 to $250.

For families who cannot afford the cost, the two superintendents recommend that families complete applications for free and reduced meals. Although this application is intended to identify families who are eligible for free or reduced meal fees, these applications also apply to help families reduce the cost of textbook fees.

Free and reduced lunches

Students have lunch at Wea Ridge Elementary School in Lafayette on Thursday, October 14, 2021.

For the past two years, the cost of student breakfasts and dinners was the last thing on many parents’ minds, as the cost was covered by the federal government.

In response to the economic turmoil the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked on families in early 2020, the federal government decided to help families by covering the cost of lunch for students attending public school.

Earlier this year, the federal government announced it would end its universal student meal coverage, and now it’s costing families money.

“We just had this discussion last week about what we are going to do as food prices have gone up for everyone. We were not isolated. I was just told as an example, a crate of chicken that we used to get for $65 is now $100,” said LSC superintendent Huddle.

For years, the TSC and LSC managed to keep the cost of breakfast at $1.15 and lunch at $1.90. This year, both districts have announced that the cost of breakfast will increase to $1.40 and lunch to $2.40.

Although the daily cost of student meals has increased by 71 cents, this increase could add up.

Before the increase, the average college student, if they ate both breakfast and lunch, could pay about $550 a year in meals. This year, if a student eats both meals, they could see an average cost of $680 per year for meals.

Both districts are trying to keep the price as low as possible, but with the cost of food rising dramatically due to inflation and with rising labor costs, it was necessary to increase spending. of a meal.

But LSC and TSC want to emphasize the importance of families completing free and reduced meal requests. Hoping to help any family in need of financial assistance, the two superintendents want families to know that they can always ask the school for help.

“We want to help, but we can only help you if you let us know you need help,” Huddle said.

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