Daniel Deckelbaum knew his long summer of tennis, baseball card trading and just "hanging out" was over this week when his mom told him it was time to go shopping for school supplies.
"He kept telling me he wasn't going, and in fact he almost cried when I told him we had to get this done," says Daniel's mom, Debra Deckelbaum.
Daniel, who is 8, will start third grade next Tuesday at Timbergrove Elementary School, and his back-to-school shopping trip actually turned out pretty well for him.
He got to pick out his own folders, making sure to avoid the purple ones (they're for girls). And he talked his mom into buying something called a Trapper-Keeper, a sort of ring binder to hold the folders.
"He told me everybody at his old school had them," Mrs. Deckelbaum says.
For some reason, teachers don't like them, however, and lots of the back-to-school lists say "Absolutely No Trapper-Keepers."
Daniel will find out on Tuesday whether his mom wasted her money.
What does it REALLY cost to send your kid off for the first day of school in Baltimore County?
Not counting, of course, the new clothes, the new sneakers, the lunch box and the lunch to fill it, the milk money, the property taxes and the state and local income taxes that go to the schools?
The shopping trip lightened the Deckelbaums' bank account by about $13, and it took two stops -- Ames and Woolworth's -- to find everything on the Timbergrove list.
A shopping trip by a Sun reporter showed it can cost as little as $7.40, if you shop at the right store and happen to live in the right school zone and your kid happens to be a third-grader. Your price may vary.
Seven-forty is how much it would cost to buy all nine items on the back-to-school list issued for the third grade at Chapel Hill Elementary School in Perry Hall. That includes pencils, scissors, crayons, ruler, manila and pocket folders, glue, pencil box, tissues and notebooks, and assumes you shop at the Giant supermarket at the White Marsh Mall.
If you took the list to the local Rite Aid drug store instead, the tab would come to $13.24, and you would still have to hit the Giant for a pencil box, which the Rite Aid didn't carry.
If you're highly capitalized, you could take the list to the PACE warehouse store in Security and spend $38.12 to buy most of the items in bulk. Then simply resell the extra stuff to the neighbors' kids at cost. That works out to about $5.93 for your kid.
Of course, you'll still have to hit the Giant for the things PACE didn't carry, and that will bring your total to $7.50, a dime more than at the Giant. But look at it this way: You will have done your neighbors a service.
It could cost you more. There is nothing standardized about the county schools' back-to-school shopping lists. This is site-based management.
For example, if your third-grader attends Fort Garrison Elementary School, in the pricey neighborhood off Stevenson Road, you'll have to shell out $24.22 to fill a back-to-school shopping list that's 20 items long -- more than twice as long as Chapel Hill's third-grade list.
And that assumes you shop at the Giant and throw in one of Dad's old shirts as the required "smock or apron for art."
Go to the Rite Aid and it will run you $34.36.
Take the list to PACE and you can outfit your own kid for $20.47, but you'll have to spend $56.54 first and peddle the leftovers to the neighbors.
If you haven't scraped up the dough to pay your property taxes yet, and the school's shopping list just seems like the straw that's going to break you, PACE has another item that might help.
Do-it-yourself bankruptcy forms, with instructions. Just $8.99.