Inflation driving up school supplies costs

It’s almost time for students at Mankato Area Public Schools to return to the classroom, and as back-to-school shoppers prepare for the new year.
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 9:33 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2022 at 9:48 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - It’s almost time for students at Mankato Area Public Schools to return to the classroom, and as back-to-school shoppers prepare for the new year, many are having to dig deeper into their pockets.

“Back-to-school shopping has really become a major spending event. It’s on par with our winter holidays: Black Friday and Christmas shopping,” said Andy Wilke, director of business development and public affairs at Greater Mankato Growth.

Inflation has driven up the prices of books and supplies by 3.11% compared to last year, and Americans are spending $11 billion more than in 2019. That’s a cost increase of about $170 per family.

Classroom must-haves like Elmer’s glue, Sharpie markers and scotch tape have seen significant mark-ups.

“Those are essential things that people need, and ultimately, they’re just going to have to make those purchases,” Wilke said.

MAPS is hoping to curb rising costs for families in the district.

“It’s impacting all of us. Food prices, clothing prices, school supply prices, our school district’s operations, we’re working through that,” said Thomas Sager, director of business services at Mankato Area Public Schools.

MAPS encourages parents to apply for free-and-reduced lunch, which could save up to $700 per student.

“Often times families are surprised at actually how high the income level is that would allow them to qualify,” Sager stated.

Across the US, inflation has caused many teachers, substitutes and bus drivers to leave their profession in search of higher-paying jobs.

The district is working to attract more substitute teachers by raising the pay from $150 to $200 per day.

“To have somebody in there to continue the learning process is absolutely vital. We’re trying to always keep that bench filled because there’s always a need,” Sager added.

Although bus drivers are in short supply across the nation, Mankato students shouldn’t have trouble traveling to or from school as normal.

And when kids get back to the classroom, MAPS says it’s only asking them to come with the bare essentials.

“Stick to the list also, so buy what’s needed and maybe avoid some of the shiny objects that catch our attention as well,” Wilke said.

Wilke recommends parents do their back-to-school shopping early for better deals. He adds that supply chain issues continue to be a problem, so check off that shopping list now to beat the rush.

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