School supplies a tough bill for parents

Rose Kirland
Rose Kirland
Nola Silva
Nola Silva

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU-- (KHNL) Our weak economy is affecting basically everything and as kids head back to school, parents are feeling the pinch while shopping for school supplies.

Students dread having to go back to school, but getting a backpack full of new school supplies fuels them for that first day.

But now, as family budgets take on new burdens, it's getting tougher especially for teachers.

Pencils. Pens. Sticker shock.

For Rose Kirland, setting up her son Koa with school supplies is a tall order.

"Between gas prices, the mortgage meltdown, the foreclosures, people being laid off, hotels not having occupancy, I think all of that is crowding up on us," said Rose Kirland.

"It's hitting them pretty hard," said teacher Nola Silva.

1st Grade teacher Nola Silva says more and more students are coming to school without supplies. Other than not being prepared, it takes a toll on their self-esteem.

"We don't want them to feel left out or feel bad because they don't have glue or crayons so we supply it for them," said Silva.

With about 75% of its students on a free reduced lunch program, it's not so much a scattered mix at Kalihi-Kai Elementary. Teachers say they spend as much as $200 or $300 a year out of pocket on supplies their students need but can't afford."

"I want to make sure the kids feel comfortable and confident," said Silva.

"It makes it difficult when it comes to economics because when you really care about your students you are going to dip in your pocket," said Kirland.

Counting costs, Kirland says parents and teachers together, will push through these tough economic times, they call it the essence of education.

Kirland says it's not so much the supplies, it's her son's other private school costs that add up. Administrative fees and uniforms alone set her back almost $900.