Payten Bisson, a fifth-grader at Presidents Elementary, helps deliver school supplies to classrooms at her school. For the fourth year in a row, the Arlington School Board approved providing basic school supplies for all students in the district. (Arlington School District photo)

Payten Bisson, a fifth-grader at Presidents Elementary, helps deliver school supplies to classrooms at her school. For the fourth year in a row, the Arlington School Board approved providing basic school supplies for all students in the district. (Arlington School District photo)

Arlington’s back-to-school gift: Basic supplies are provided

And in Everett, an A-plus Stuff the Bus drive collected items to fill more than 1,900 backpacks.

Glue sticks and hand sanitizer. Lined note cards, blue and red ballpoint pens, highlighters in five colors, and earbuds (labeled in a baggie). Kleenex, scissors and a three-ring binder with a clear front sleeve.

As every frazzled parent of a school-age child knows, supply lists go on and on. The above items are on the Snohomish district’s Seattle Hill Elementary School list. Depending on the grade level, there’s plenty more to it.

Parents of kids in Arlington schools get a real break. For the fourth year in a row, Arlington School Board members approved providing basic school supplies for all students in the district.

“By taking care of the school supplies, this is one less cost that families have to worry about,” said Kay Duskin, board president, in a recent statement.

For the Arlington district’s 2019-20 school year, the supply budget for basics increased from $20 to $22 per elementary student. The supply budget increased by $1,000 for each middle school, and went up $2,000 for high school, according to the district’s Aug. 20 press release.

The district does ask elementary students to bring backpacks, and families of older kids need to provide other items, including PE uniforms.

“We’ve budgeted $77,000 for the 2019-20 school year for school supplies,” said Gary Sabol, the Arlington district’s director of communications. That sum will come from the district’s general fund.

Along with paying for supplies, the Arlington School Board decided at its July 8 meeting to eliminate athletic participation fees for middle and high school students this year. The district’s fees to play have been $50 per sport at the middle school level and $100 for each sport in high school. That money, an infusion to extracurricular allocations, also will come from the general fund.

A 2014 University of Kansas study showed that high school athletes had higher rates of school attendance and graduation, and better state assessment scores than those who didn’t participate in sports.

Most Snohomish County schools ask families to provide basic supplies. The Mukilteo School District — which has supply lists online in English, Spanish, Korean, Russian, Ukrainian and Vietnamese — notes on its website that it has “greatly reduced the amount of supplies it is asking parents to purchase.”

For Mukilteo elementary schools, it’s a six-item list, plus one item that’s optional. In middle schools, there are only three items. Teachers may request more, but those things aren’t required.

In Everett, the recent Stuff the Bus for Kids school supply drive received enough donations to fill more than 1,900 backpacks. Those packs and supplies will be available at Everett schools for students needing them, district spokeswoman Linda Carbajal said Tuesday. There’s no requirement for paperwork showing family income, she said. Requests may be made at school offices.

Stuff the Bus, an effort of the Everett Public Schools Foundation in partnership with the Durham School Services bus agency, is marking its 10th year. Kay Fantin, the foundation’s executive director, said 211 volunteers showed up recently at Eisenhower Middle School to sort supplies and fill backpacks.

Buses were at Fred Meyer, QFC and Staples stores collecting supplies, and 27 businesses had bins for donations. Extra muscle was provided by football players from Cascade and Everett high schools, who unloaded three buses.

It’s been years since I had three kids at home, each with a long list of back-to-school needs. I remember what it was like to be a parent in September, especially a single mom. With school clothes and shoes, haircuts, sports gear and all those supplies to buy, after paying for camps and child care during the summer, it was budget-busting season.

Any help for families, from school districts or generous donors, deserves an A-plus.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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