LEBANON — Lebanon has decided not to pursue a proposal to ask parents to pay a school supply fee this fall instead of bringing in bags of pencils, crayons and copy paper.
The Lebanon School Board considered the proposal Thursday but a motion to try it on a one-year basis failed for lack of a second.
Had it passed, the proposal would have affected families only at the district's K-5, K-6 and K-8 schools. Lebanon High School and Seven Oak Middle School were not covered by the plan.
District officials had suggested asking parents of elementary students to pay a fee of $45 to $50 for supplies for a couple of reasons, Business Director Linda Darling told the board. One would be to standardize lists and stock classrooms with all necessary items through bulk ordering before the school year began. Another was to save parents the hassle of visiting multiple stores to make sure all items were procured.
And, Darling said, prepurchasing would make sure students were using quality items. For instance, she said, off-brand pencils tend to break more often and need sharpening "four, five, six times more" than the brands the schools request.
The district would have bulk ordered supplies before the year began, at an estimated cost of $110,000. The money would have been used to recoup those costs, Darling said.
Families who couldn't pay would not be charged, Darling said, but she didn't have a way of estimating how many that might be, or how that might affect the district's bottom line. Classroom carryover funds would have been used to cover whatever families couldn't pay.
“Our intention is not to burden familes," Darling told the board. "Our intention is to help families.”
But during public comment, community liaisons told the board they worried families would simply come to the Welcome Center for help covering the fee rather than ask for a waiver, which would result in a heavier burden than the center is prepared to bear. They also expressed concerns about the potential for shame.
Board members said they weren't convinced that parents couldn't buy their own supplies for less than the district fee, and pointed out that some families actually enjoy the annual shopping trip.
"I'm still struggling with how much of a problem this is," Chairman Tom Oliver said.