The Huntington Backpack Index has tracked classroom supply and school fee costs passed on to parents since 2007 to highlight the added burden of public school expenses beyond assessed taxes.
The Index is limited to required supplies and common fees to bring attention to an often overlooked major annual expense. Other back-to-school surveys typically concentrate on clothing costs or what parents say they think they will spend.
Back-to-school season brings its familiar annual budget impact on families as costs for classroom supplies and school activity fees continue to climb, according to the 2017 Huntington Bank Backpack Index released by Huntington in cooperation with Communities In Schools.
For the 2017-2018 school year, according to the Backpack Index, parents can expect to pay per child:
- $662 for elementary school children, a 1 percent increase compared to 2016.
- $1,001 for middle school children, a 4.6 percent increase compared to 2016.
- $1,489 for high school students, $9 less than 2016, a less than 1 percent decrease.
Although the cost for the sample list of supplies rose nominally at the elementary and middle school levels, high school costs – the highest impact on parents – decreased by a few dollars year over year.
While moderate-income families may not think much about having to purchase pencils, paper, tissues, hand sanitizer and so on, families living in poverty have the greatest struggle keeping up with the ever-rising cost demands of a public education.
Communities In Schools provides supplies to students in need and partners with public school systems to ensure supportive resources are available so teachers don’t have to pay out of pocket to equip their classrooms. Huntington adopts a lower-income public school in each of its markets to help lend support.
“We need to be sure that every child in America comes to school equipped for success,” said Dale Erquiaga, president and CEO of Communities In Schools. “But many students struggle with the cost of basic school supplies, let alone the cost for school sports, clubs or activities. That’s why we bring existing community resources inside schools to make sure that no student starts out behind on the very first day of school.”
Huntington annually obtains classroom-supply lists from a cross-section of schools throughout the eight states it serves and compiles a representative list of required supplies and fees. Costs are determined by selecting moderately priced items at online retailers.