Back-to-school shopping used to mean a new pair of Levis, a pair of sneakers that fit, a package of Blue Horse notebook paper and a supply of No. 2 pencils.
It isn't so simple today, but Superintendent David Lewis is doing what he can to streamline the items Muscogee County students are expected to have in their backpacks -- one without wheels, of course.
Over the summer, in concert with principals and teachers, the administration came up with a streamlined supply list for every grade level, one parents could afford and one that didn't include materials the school system should be furnishing. Lewis had good intentions but unfortunately there was a glitch. Before his list was approved, some schools published their own lists and made them available to various retailers. That was why Wal-Mart had a display of shopping lists that was hardly streamlined.
That changed Friday. Once the superintendent discovered the library of lists, ones issued by the administration and approved by the school board replaced them.
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Parents will appreciate the change. Instead of a brand conscious list, the official list is concise, as evidenced by the wish list for kindergartners. It calls for index cards, a box of tissues, a 3-ring binder, a composition book, glue sticks, a dozen pencils, notebook paper, markers, scissors, erasers and crayons.
It doesn't call for Klennex, Elmer's or Crayola. Parents are free to buy generic brands. Lewis wanted to keep costs under $20. That was the plan but some had gotten out of hand.
One was so specific that it called for three sizes of Ziploc sandwich bags, a box of baby wipes, a box of Lysol wipes and a bottle of hand sanitizer leading you to believe they wanted their students' hands to be the cleanest in town.
There were also contradictions. Some schools required headphones and others demanded earbuds. Some wanted reams of copy paper, Play-Doh and Band-Aids and one demanded parents send wipes in a rectangular box emphatically stating that cylinder shaped containers weren't acceptable.
These lists came out before the administration issued one much more amenable. School starts Thursday and if you haven't shopped for your child, use the amended lists now found in most stores.
You can stuff the old lists in a cylinder shaped container since you may have an extra one around the house.
-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.