Mothers' eagerness to provide school supplies for their children is an article of faith that school officials continue to depend on because of budget cuts.
"They just want more," said Sherry Chronister, parent of three Tyrone Area School District children who begin school today.
She said her children's school supply list for this year has gotten longer even since last year when budget cuts were made.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Lalia Santos (left) and Callie Dunmire, both 9, make their way to a school bus after completing their first day of school Monday at Foot of Ten Elementary School in Duncansville. They sit next to each other in their fourth-grade class.
"They cannot supply your kids with anything; you have to take pencils and folders now. They [the schools] have always given you pencils and folders," Chronister said.
State funding shortfalls and increases in school district costs to the state's pension system have been a perfect storm weathered by school boards which passed budgets over the summer, and it shows in the requests for parents to pitch in for classroom supplies this year at Tyrone.
"They are asking for tissues, Clorox wipes ... but I don't mind. It costs money and it's money they don't have," Chronister said.
Chronister's supply list for her son also includes notebooks and binders.
The school supply list for her fifth-grade daughter isn't as extensive because her teacher is volunteering to buy them, she said.
Altoona Area parent Julie Wilt said there was no noticeable increase in classroom supplies that she is required to provide for her fifth-grade daughter.
Wilt's pig-tailed granddaughter stood in the Altoona Walmart against a backdrop of colorful lunchboxes on Monday - a tough choice - but one made with relief that full-day kindergarten is continuing in the Altoona district.
It was just in March that school officials at Altoona and across the state considered cutting full-day kindergarten to a half day to adjust to Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed elimination of the state's Accountability Block Grant for kindergarten programs.
"Without that money, it would have been a serious consideration," Altoona spokeswoman Paula Foreman said.
But state legislators made an 11th-hour deal to restore that grant to the state budget passed in June, allowing kindergarten children to experience full-day kindergarten this year.
"She is very excited to start school," Wilt said.
Tossing book covers and binder dividers into her Walmart shopping cart was Ann Hoover, finishing her last leg of a school shopping on Monday while her four children were in their first day of classes at Cambria Heights middle and high schools.
"It was like the night before Christmas at our home. They love school," Hoover said.
Purchasing all of her children's supplies was not a recent development, she said. For as long as her children were in school, Hoover has been responsible for providing everything from pencils to book covers for her children.
"It's always been like that," she said. "If they need anything else, I'll find out today after school."