Report: Families spending less on back-to-school supplies

Local parent disagrees with national study

A national study shows back-to-school spending may be down this year, but at least one local mom said that’s not the case when it comes to her West Salem family of five.

According to a report by the National Retail Federation, average school supplies spending by families is around $634.78. That’s more than $50 less than last year’s average, which rounded out at $68.62.  The study points to a tendency toward earlier and online shopping by parents as potential reasons behind the decreased numbers. But Laurie Noelke, a West Salem parent to three school-aged children, said her back-to-school spending hasn’t changed at all.

“By the time everything is said and done, it will cost about $200 for all three kids to be supplied and ready to go,” Noelke said. “And that doesn’t include school clothes.”

She blames a slow economy for her family’s back-to-school expenses. Noelke said her family shopped for sales before purchasing supplies, a move she suspects other parents are using, as well.

“Everybody’s trying to save a buck at this point in time,” she said.

Noelke said the school supply list for her youngest son, Jack, included nine notebooks, among a range of classroom utensils.


“I can’t imagine my son is going to use eight glue sticks during first grade,” she said.

Jane Macdonald, a West Salem Elementary School teacher, said school staff understands the expenses associated with the start of school and do what they can to help.

“We have asked each grade level, who has a section of six to seven teachers, to re-look at their list and see if there are some things that they could cut off that list in order to keep costs down,” Macdonald said. “Families that might have three or four children, that gets expensive.”

As a former teacher, Noelke said she understands the need for supplies in the classroom as staff deals with a slumped economy.

“There are necessities that the students have, and sometimes the school can’t provide everything,” Noelke said. “So we rely on parents and students to bring in some of the extra stuff that we can’t always purchase.”