Parents fork out for classroom essentials
PRINCIPALS are safeguarding school savings by getting parents to supply classroom basics such as whiteboard markers, erasers, rolls of paper towels and even hand soap as they send their children back to class this year.
It is understood schools are pushing the drive for resources - which would normally be covered by government funding - back onto students' household budgets, in a bid to offset costs for special projects such as IT upgrades and laptops.
The Education Department said yesterday there was nothing wrong with individual principals asking parents to supply items for their school to supplement government-funded resources.
However, the department stressed that it was voluntary for parents to follow through on such requests.
"Schools may ask for parents to bring in voluntary contributions of supplies, which allows them to reinvest their funding allocations for supplies into other areas of local priority," a spokesman said.
An investigation by The Daily Telegraph can today reveal at least 15 public schools have added staple items to their lists of things kids should bring with them when classes start at the end of the month.
In a letter sent to parents and posted online, Oakville Public School, in Sydney's northwest, families are asked to purchase a $38 stationary pack, including one ream of "A4 Victory Copy Paper" and two packets of tissues.
On Mona Vale Public School's list, parents are asked to add four whiteboard markers "for the class to share".
West Pymble Public School asks parents to bring a 16-pack of EXPO chisel whiteboard markers and a Kej Magnetic whiteboard eraser, while Narraweena Public School families are also asked to bring whiteboard markers, as well as a box of tissues to share with the rest of the class.
At Manly West, Year 3 boys are asked to bring a roll of paper towels to school while girls are asked to bring a bottle of hand sanitiser.
On the list of items at Cambewarra Public School, students are being asked to bring one box of tissues, a ream of white A4 paper and one bottle of hand soap.
Tabitha Booth, whose son Nickolas will start year three at Cambewarra, said she was surprised to be asked to pay for items normally supplied by the school.
"Being a government school, the government should provide all those resources and schools should have enough resources so they're not having to ask parents," she said.
NSW Secondary Principals' Council President Chris Presland said schools were asking for basic items so they could divert money for bigger projects such as IT upgrades and to buy suites of laptops.
Rather than have resources given to them by the department, from 2012 schools have received a lump sum twice a year from which they must pay for all school expenses, ranging from maintenance to electricity bills to basic classroom supplies.
"Those schools are likely to be diverting money for bigger purchases for laptops or tech upgrades, they're trying to divert money for bigger projects," Mr Presland said.
P & C Federation Central Coast District Council president Sharryn Brownlee said schools shouldn't be dipping into family's shopping budgets to pay for basic teaching necessities.
"Schools that send out notes asking for stationery are misleading their parents," she said.
"If you have 50 lots of whiteboard markers and they went in the storeroom, where is the audit for thousands of dollars of stationery."
President of the Mona Vale Public School P & C Association Conor Weule said forking out cash for baby wipes and tissues was a necessary burden.
"I think most parents would say they would want the government directing their funds to something more critical," she said.