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School system works to keep supply costs low

Julie Sothoron doesn't let her daughter waste perfectly good school supplies.
"I used to just buy all new things every year," she said. "But now I make her recycle what she has from last year."
Jennifer Sothoron starts the eighth grade at Oklahoma Road Middle School Aug. 26.
As the mother-daughter duo shopped for school supplies Wednesday night at Staples in Westminster, they checked off the items on the list that they printed from the school's website. The two picked up composition books, erasers, highlighters, paper, binders and other miscellaneous supplies.
Sothoron said she expects to pay less for her daughter's back-to-school needs this year than she did last year because her daughter is reusing her old backpack and other supplies.
This is a trend that families will follow this school year, according to the National Retail Federation, a retail trade association.
Families will spend an average of $634.78 on clothing, shoes, supplies and electronics this year, which is down more than $50 from last year, according to data from the National Retail Federation.
A combination of greater demand and an increase of students led to record spending in 2012.
Parents are left with an array of school supplies that still work along with a shorter shopping list, leading to the lower costs this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
In 2011, Carroll County Public Schools issued administrative regulations on school supplies, setting limits on what elementary and middle schools can require from students.
The regulations have helped ease the financial burden on families, said Whitney Warner, assistant principal at Manchester Elementary School.
"Due to the economy we've tried to lessen the load on parents as to what we're asking them to purchase," Warner said.
The guidelines have made supply lists more consistent throughout schools, Warner said.
"We look over each supply list prior to it going out so that we make sure that it's reasonable as far as what they're asking parents to purchase," Warner said.
Bob Mitchell, principal at Ebb Valley Elementary School, said the rising costs of supplies became a concern, and the school system didn't want to overburden families.
"We didn't want one school asking for fancy calculators or things like that and another school not," Mitchell said. "So we tried to make it equitable among schools but still give the school supplies that students need to be able to participate."

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