Las Vegas Sun

January 31, 2015

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Bring your own supplies

Pinched school budgets force parents to reach into their pockets for … toilet paper?

Every year parents across America are asked to pitch in to help the public schools provide classroom supplies. The typical request might be for crayons or other art supplies.

Recently, as the economy has languished, the requests for help have included items that go beyond classroom staples. Last year parents in Jacksonville, Fla., were asked to donate toilet paper. Other schools have asked for paper for the school copy machine.

Trying to do more with less, school administrations across the nation are finding ways to continue to provide the educational essentials. The American Association of School Administrators reported that high gas prices have led at least 15 school districts to switch to four-day school weeks and dozens of others are considering following suit. Some schools have switched from half-day kindergarten to full day to cut down on the number of bus trips.

Other districts are raising the price of school lunches and cutting back on travel for field trips and sports.

The Clark County School District has already cut funding for special programs, including for gifted and special needs students, and put off the purchase of new textbooks. Now school administrators are trying to trim the fuel budget by making fewer stops, thus making children walk farther to catch a bus. The district is also considering the desperate measure of selling advertising on the sides of school buses to make ends meet.

That is not a surprise. Despite what the critics of public education say, the state has never adequately funded the schools.

Voters should be asking legislative candidates this year what they plan to do about school funding. It is not acceptable to go without current textbooks, nor is it acceptable to expect parents to continue to pitch in for basic supplies.

The state Legislature should make Nevada’s education system a top priority. If nothing changes, parents shouldn’t be surprised if they’re asked next year to help pitch in for the light bill.

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