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PTA classroom supplies purchasing FAQ

We hope the following questions and answers will address any concerns or confusion about the PTA Supplies Program initiated in Fall 2017. Contact us at pta@tmlink.org with any further questions or ideas. [Page last updated June 28, 2018.]

“When do I pay?”

The PTA confirms pricing and other details by mid-August latest. The suggested dollar figure as well as instructions for payment by credit card, check or cash will be on the PTA Supplies Program main page at that time.  Families will also receive this information on payment and deadline via email and on paper no later than the beginning of school in September.

“I can’t afford this.”
. . . or . . .
“I already have supplies to bring in.”

Please don’t worry. Pay only if you are able. Classroom supplies, including “personal” items such as pencil boxes, folders and binders, already have been purchased for every student, so if you already have bought or received typical supplies, you could hold on to them for future use, or perhaps donate them.

Backpacks and lunch boxes are not included. If you need a backpack for your student, please contact the school at 206-252-2800 starting in mid- to late August. (The office is closed part of the summer.)

“What does my money purchase?”

Teachers are asked each spring to specify their classroom’s needs. The items vary somewhat by classroom, but more than 2 dozen items, including pencils and other writing/drawing tools; notebooks and other paper products; binders and folders; tissues and hand-sanitizer. We buy some sturdier items that we expect to use for multiple years.

Because we know that not every family can afford to pay, we set the per-student payment 25-35 percent above actual per-student cost to ensure we cover all needs.

“So, does my student still need to bring anything from home?”

Yes! A backpack, for sure, and lunch box if your student brings lunch. For example, your student might be asked to bring in a reusable water bottle, or (for projects) an empty shoe box or milk carton, etc. See next question.

“Will teachers request additional supplies from families, anyway?”

Teachers are asked each spring to specify their classroom’s needs, and the PTA ordered corresponding amounts of items. Some teachers may ask families to bring in special items. For example, your student might be asked to bring a reusable water bottle, or (for projects) an empty shoe box or milk carton, etc.

Teachers have been advised that the PTA expects to have the ability later in the school year to cover  reasonable, additional needs not foreseen in the spring.

“How did this program become the only way to buy supplies for my TM student?”

In recent years, PTA leaders have heard from parents who asked us to address the inefficiency and potential inequity of the school requiring each family to individually fulfill the supplies list. Before initiating this program in 2017, we looked at the experience at other schools and took into account that Thurgood Marshall staff have long had to find ways cover the needs of families unable to purchase the items on their child’s supplies list.

We hope this program will create convenience as well as equity among classrooms. The PTA is committed to ensuring that every student has the pencils, paper and so many other items they’ll need for a great year in school.

“Where is the actual list for Grade __? I’d rather not pay the PTA to do this purchasing, since we already have pencils and many supplies at home.”

No list will be distributed but each teacher was able to custom-order for their classroom. All necessary classroom supplies requested by the teachers have been purchased already.

Pay only if you are able to. You may wish to return to the store the supplies you had already purchased, or retain them for a future year or home use.

“Are you sure this is saving money?”

We are investing in some sturdier items, such as rulers, that we expect to use for multiple years. Otherwise, we are purchasing many items in large quantities that lead to discounts over what the average individual family would find online and elsewhere. 

“Will the cost be the same each year?”

We don’t expect dramatic year-to-year changes in the suggested payment.  Note that we purchase some items because they should last longer than cheaper versions. We seek to provide the best quality items at an average cost to families.

Contact us at pta@tmlink.org with any further questions or ideas.

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