School districts across the Golden Triangle are finding creative ways to assist children and families with school supplies costs and needs as kids return to school this fall.
The Discovery Center at Emerson Family School in Starkville will host a “back to school bash” 10 a.m. to noon July 31. Families Strengthening Families Coordinator Barbara Culberson said this drive-through event will provide students with school supplies and backpacks for the upcoming school year.
“We are trying to make sure the families have a good start for the school year,” Culberson said. “We usually do this every year anyway, but we just tried to make sure we stepped up our efforts this year because we know families are really hurting from the pandemic.”
Aside from supplies, the back to school bash will offer free medical screenings for students. Culberson said parenting information packets will also be available to give parents information on different services Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District offers, classes they can participate in and tips on parenting skills.
Multiple organizations in Starkville have donated supplies. While the event is first-come, first-served, Culberson said she believes there will be enough supplies for all families who would like to take part.
Donations are still being accepted. Anyone interested in contributing supplies can contact the Discovery Center at 662-320-4607.
While SOCSD schools are the Discovery Center’s primary focus, Culberson said families of any school in the area can participate in the event.
“Parents sometimes just don’t have a lot of money to buy a lot of things, so what we’re trying to do is do things that will help them the best we can to prepare their children,” Culberson said.
Lowndes County School District found an affordable solution to school supplies as well.
Superintendent Sam Allison said the school district asked every student to pay a $10 supply fee, providing students with all supplies they need aside from pencils and paper. He said not only does this make items low-cost for families, but all students will have the same kind of products.
“We don’t ask for a lot,” Allison said. “We want to buy the supplies as a school — the glue, the crayons, scissors, that sort of thing — that way everybody has them. We really try not to overburden parents with purchasing a bunch of different items.”
Allison said families who are not able to pay the $10 fee can apply for a waiver for assistance in the cost.
At Columbus Municipal School District, much of the art supplies needed for elementary students has been provided. The Junior Auxiliary of Columbus donated art boxes for all students kindergarten through fifth grade to assist families in costs.
CMSD Superintendent Cherie Labat said the district is trying to move away from a mass amount of physical supplies and instead focus on technology. Through federal COVID-19 relief funds, each student and teacher at a CMSD school has been provided with a computer or tablet. Labat said the district will continue to evaluate what is necessary for schools based on this technology initiative.
“We’re just trying to make sure we are using technology in a more efficient and effective manner so we can reduce the amount of supplies that students need,” Labat said. “With the art supplies being donated by Junior Auxiliary, that should help our students and parents tremendously on needs.”
Another way students and families can save money for school supplies is through Mississippi’s tax-free weekend. Mississippi’s 2021 sales tax holiday will begin at 12:01 a.m. July 30 and ends midnight July 31. Shoppers can save the state sales tax amount of 7 percent on clothing, footwear, school supplies and uniforms less than $100 per item.