Alabama’s public schools have a major funding problem.
At one elementary school in Moody, students are being asked to bring items like Kleenex, hand soap, disinfecting wipes, baby wipes, trash bags, hand sanitizer and more — objects the school is usually responsible for providing — in addition to their usual back-to-school supplies.
For Shacora Wright, whose son is starting fourth grade in a few weeks, the ever-growing supply list has become frustrating.
“I’m not frustrated over pencils,” Wright said. “Of course he needs pencils, he needs folders, he need books, crayons, things that make sense, not household items that should basically already be supplied there for them. That is a bit much.”
It’s not just Alabama’s schools that are running out of funding for basic supplies. According to CBS News, average spending on back-to-school supplies has risen by about 42% since 2005. The average elementary school parent will pay about $580 for his or her child’s supplies. For parents of junior and senior high school students, expenditures go up another $100.
“What we saw in the last decade, especially the last five or six years, are some very large cuts to the education budgets,” said Michael Griffith, senior policy adviser at the Education Commission of the States. “And what schools have been doing is cutting back on everything they possibly can … and someone’s got to take care of that.”
In some cases, Alabama parents are forgoing under-funded public schools altogether, sending their children to private schools across the state. Private schools currently account for approximately 24% of the nation’s schools, enrolling about 10% of all students from preschool age through high school.
On Friday, August 7, Banks Academy, a new private school in Birmingham, officially opened, welcoming its first class of 9th graders.
The Yellowhammer reports that Banks Academy will help students in the under-served communities of East Lake and Roebuck by offering them another option for their education. Best of all? These students, who have thus far attended Alabama’s failing public schools, may even be eligible for scholarships under the Alabama Accountability Act.
“I look forward to seeing the school make a positive impact to those living in the Eastern section of Birmingham,” Birmingham Mayor William Bell said.