Palm Beach County Schools Tell Kids To Bring Their Own Paper Towels

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Palm Beach County Public School students must bring their own paper towels to school.

BOCA RATON, FL ( — With school supply lists in hand, parents throughout Palm Beach County are spending these last Summer vacation days at Target and Wal-Mart, stocking up on pencils, highlighters and paper towels.
Wait, paper towels?
Palm Beach County Schools are apparently so underfunded that parents are required to send their kids to school with paper towels. Some schools even expect students to have their own reams of paper.
For parents who grew up in the highly ranked and well-funded school districts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, the supply lists are truly shocking. How could a school district — let alone a school district that includes a plethora of multi-million dollar homes — not be able to supply pencils, markers and paper towels to kids? Where are the tax dollars going?
Just as importantly, why is the Palm Beach County School District not taking advantage of bulk buying and tax free status to purchase these supplies for 176,000 students, then passing on a dramatically reduced “supply fee” to parents?
Here’s a math lesson: it’s far more cost effective to buy 176,000 of an item once than to buy it once 176,000  times. This is logic apparently lost on school district leaders — as they push parents of 176,000 students to Target and Wal-Mart where supplies are purchased at retail. And we’re not evening mentioning the part about fuel use and damage to the environment.
We have asked for a response from the Palm Beach County School District, and potentially incoming Superintendent Robert Avossa. This is a problem that he inherited and did not create. We hope his educational background, work as Superintendent of Fulton County Schools in Georgia, and as the Accountability Officer for the respected Charlotte-Mecklensburg School District will lead to change  — and implantation of a new policy: one where money is spent intelligently, supplies are purchased in bulk at a massive discount, and kids don’t have to bring their own paper towels to school.

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6 thoughts on “Palm Beach County Schools Tell Kids To Bring Their Own Paper Towels

  1. I grew up in the North East and yes, the supply list was short… pencils, scissors perhaps, some crayons. Down here now with my son going into 3rd grade, the list was approx 20 items longs. 4 Reams of paper, paper towels (yep), tissues (yup), 8 sticks of glue, box of gallon zip lock bags, anti bacterial soap and 30 other weird items like that. For each student. That’s ALOT of glue and zip lock bags, for one class of students.
    Now don’t get me wrong… I don’t mind. There are no state income taxes here. There were killer taxes in New York. And I’d prefer to keep it this way… BUT… I totally agree about the bulk buy concept. I’d rather put in this $100+ to a fund where the school was then in charge and could buy bulk.
    For each of us parents to be spending this is really rather wasteful and silly and the through did cross my mind about what happens to all the left overs. I mean I can’t see on class of 20 students going through 160 sticks of glue in 9 months of school. That’s insane.

  2. So if we let the county buy all the supplies, then I bet it would cost TWICE as much. You see, they would need to hire numerous employees to handle purchasing, and then a supervisor to watch them purchase, and then an office manager to manage the purchasers and supervisors, and then a regional manager to manage the managers and so on. And they would all be getting benefits and all the other jazz that goes with governmental waste. And they would have to hire distributors, and supervisors of the distributors, and managers of the the supervisors, and managers of the managers and so on and so on. Never underestimate the government’s ability to waste money.

  3. Clearly the writer of this article is clueless as to where school supply lists come from. The teachers come up with their own list of things for parents to purchase not the district office. Normally at elementary schools they come up with them by grade. Do you have any idea how many Kleenex and hand sanitizer a teacher goes through in a year?? It’s crazy, especially at middle and high school levels where you have 150+ kids a day. Teachers just haven’t gotten enough in workable income to continue to invest $500+ a year in their classroom. Also don’t forget the teacher can’t force you to buy the supplies, so they need extra to cover those students who do not have the money to get the supplies. I think it’s just crazy you would reach out to the district for comment when you can ask any teacher where the lists come from. Good gracious.

  4. The PB school system has been corrupt for years, blocking bidders from public bids and when you are awarded they let you know you have to pass this test w supervisor and you cannot get anywhere since he refuses to change a product or piece of equipment.
    hopefully this gets looked at.
    Purchasing department has been a problem for years

  5. Loved this article! The writer of this article is spot on in highlighting the absurdity of “supply lists”. My kids have been in the PBC School system for 20 years. When I first saw these supply lists , I thought it was more of a wish list. Not true. Some years the schools even split the lists such as boys bring paper towels, girls bring tissues. One year my child was required to bring a spiral notebook. I purchased a very nice, fairly expensive spiral notebook with her favorite character on it. The first day of school the teacher took all the books, mixed them up and then redistributed them. A little girl who sat across from my daughter was given the book I had purchased and my daughter was given some old beat up piece of junk book. She then proceeded to taunt my child with the book for the rest of the year. ( It should be noted that the other girl never even brought in a book). My advice to my daughter “life’s not fair, take the high road” however inside I was simmering. On another occasion my son’s Science teacher at a very well known local Middle School, in a wealthy area, told the kids there would be no more assignments for the last 6 weeks of school due to “a shortage of paper”. I guarantee there were not hundreds of kids running home insisting on bringing paper in the next day! On a final separate note, ( to demonstrate more absurdness) recently at our local high school, my daughter was not allowed to have her own artwork from her 2D art class unless she paid for her own drawings?! Thanks for acknowledging that we are not alone in our frustration with these lists!

  6. Few people understand that there is a reason our schools are underfunded in Palm Beach County. Roughly 1/3 of our property taxes in Palm Beach County are designated for schools. This is a tremendous amount of money and we should have top-notch schools. THE PROBLEM: PBC doesn’t get to keep all the tax money paid by PBC residents that is designated for schools. Instead the state sticks its fingers in the pie and takes away apx 1/2 of the 1/3 and distributes it to school districts in need throughout the 66 other counties in Florida.