Monday, July 13, 2009

No Such Thing as a "Free Lunch"


I was putting together a budget for hubby so we could talk about how much this school year was going to cost... You know, the "free" education that the state provides for our children?
Let me tell you, if this is "free," I would hate to see it if it wasn't.

To start with, we need at least $700 worth of clothes and shoes for all three kids together. Now, I know I have to clothe them no matter what we do. But "school" clothes at their school consists of a uniform, which I LOVE (no joke!). So they will need additional "play" clothes and "church" clothes.
Next, we have school supplies. The school provides a list of all the required school supplies for each student. I have already shelled out over $300 for the girls. We still have about $150 to go for my son.
The school also has fees for workbooks and other classroom materials not supplied by the state, but necessary for the children's instruction. Between the three kids, it should add up roughly to $175.
So that the students (and parents) aren't subjected to fundraisers, our school has chosen to have a "family donation." It is suggested to donate $100 per child. That means we'll pledge $300, to be paid out over the course of the school year.
If the children are involved in any after-school activities or sports, their uniforms, equipment and fees associated with each activity. We are expecting at least $200 in those moneys.
The children have many plays and activities that are both educational and fun during the school day. Many of these require a fee to go. The fees are usually very nominal, but I'm figuring on about $50 throughout the year for all three children.
One of the children's favorite things is field trips. The younger two will go on several, spread throughout the year. The eldest, in Middle School, will go on one big overnight trip out of the city. When all is said and done, all together I expect to pay around $600 for all three kids.
Lunches are something that needs to be provided, regardless of whether they are in school or at home. So, I pulled that line-item out so we would get a more realistic picture.
Inside the classroom, there are room moms, who arrange various parties, including games and food. They also usually collect money to give the teacher Christmas gifts, birthday gifts and end-of-school presents. Our family also usually gives individual gifts for the teachers. I'm estimating around $240 for all of the various things for all three children.
As the weather changes, we will need to supply the children with more uniform clothing so that they will stay warm. That will be an additional $300 for long pants and long sleeved shirts.
Or school is a K-12 school, so we have school sports and socials for the upper grades. I'm certain we will be asked by our children to attend games and dances. I'm guessing around $100 for the year for all three children.
Oh, don't forget school pictures, taken both fall and spring. We usually don't purchase them. But the kids do want year books. The upper grades' book is $50. The lower grades' book is $35. That's $120 for all the kids together.
I'm sure there are other things I am forgetting, all of which will cost... you guessed it... money.

But if I quickly add together just these things that I have listed, we are looking at a grand total of: $3,235.oo.

Wow. Okay, I kind of wish I hadn't done this little exercise. I'm hyperventilating at that big, monster figure. But we've done it every year, so I guess we'll do it again.

I guess this is just a shining example of the fact that nothing in life is "free"-- even a "free" education...

P.S. I know this is NOTHING compared to college. But just let me get through one thing at a time...

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