Opinion: Thanks to Harrison Co. board for covering costs of school supplies, eliminating high school fees; salute for "putting students first"

Cynthiana Democrat, April 28, 2016

Board puts students first in Harrison County

It’s about leveling the playing field; about everyone in a classroom on the first day of school starting off with a brand new box of crayons.

The Harrison County Board of Education voted Tuesday to continue to provide back-to-school school supplies for elementary and middle school students and to not charge fees for high school students.

The price tag is $52,000. It’s a small price to pay.

Superintendent Andy Dotson told board members that many students were coming to school not prepared. Some students would bring their pencil boxes with new, pointed crayons, and their favorite character embossed on the front, while others were fortunate to have a secondhand back pack.

Dotson said it doesn’t take long for a child to recognize the difference.

For the last six to seven years, every elementary student, from kindergarten to fifth grade, walked into the classroom on the first day of school to a desk laden with supplies.

Who doesn’t like to have a brand new box of crayons or coloring pencils? Same goes for the Harrison County Middle School students.

I’ve been to schools on the first day of the new year. Young ones are excited to see what is in their pencil boxes. Facial expressions speak volumes.

Teachers do an amazing job and keeping all things even. I’ve heard them explain that the supplies are theirs and that they will be in their desks every day. They nicely ask that school supplies that Mom and Dad bought be left at home.

Each of the four elementary schools receive $5,000 to use for supplies. The middle school gets $12,000, and the high school $20,000 for fees.

Over the last seven years that has amounted to $364,000.

Students will learn soon enough that there are social and economic differences. Kindergarten students don’t need to learn it on the first day of school. That day is traumatic enough. If new supplies help them ease into school, it’s a success.

Dotson said he thought this was uniquely a Harrison County offering.

“I don’t believe there is another district in the state that offers this,” he said.

In the overall scheme of things, it’s not a huge expense for the school system. However, for some families, having to buy supplies on top of school clothes is monumental. Some of the school fees at the high school could be quite taxing on a family’s small budget. Add to that supplies for two or three children and back-to-school becomes a family crisis.

Although I don’t have schoolage children any longer, I appreciate what the school board and superintendent have done to ensure a good experience for children.

When my kids were going to school, we would get a list from teachers. Some would be handed out during an open house prior to the start of school or on the first day of school. We would take those lists and head to the store. I can attest that it was not cheap.

So, what the school district is doing to help, is a Godsend to many families.

On behalf of them, I thank the school board members for putting students first.

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