LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) - Notebooks or composition books? Looseleaf paper or tablets? And just how many pencils should students bring with them on the first day of school?

Those were the questions discussed Friday by a group of Jefferson County Public Schools principals tasked with coming up with ideas for general school supply list that can be used at the district's 155 schools.

"We want parents to be responsible for the things we feel are fundamental and essential in the classroom, " said Tracey Barber, principal of Dunn Elementary School. "That’s what we’re trying to come up with – what are the fundamentals that every child needs in order to be successful? When I think of fundamentals, I think about pencils and paper, a folder and some glue sticks an crayons."

Two meetings were held – one with elementary school principals in the morning, the other with middle school principals in the afternoon – and many of them brought old supply lists generated by their teachers to use as a starting point. High school principals met Thursday. 

Amy Dennes, an assistant superintendent, said the district is working on a short time-frame so it can get information out to parents quickly. The first day of school is Wednesday, Aug. 13. 

"We will compile the lists put together today and send them out to all of our principals over the weekend, " she said. “We are asking them to provide feedback by Monday morning."

Julie Cummings, principals of Eisenhower Elementary, said one of the challenges is defining what a child needs vs. what a teacher wants the child to bring to class.

As WDRB reported Thursday, JCPS has issued new orders to schools for the 2014-15 year – keep it to the basics. The schools will pay for the rest.

Problematic supply lists from some schools is a concern district officials say they’ve had for years – one that was reflected recently in an unfavorable state audit that found it increasingly difficult for students’ families to afford the “required and optional classroom supply lists.”

Examples of some previous JCPS school lists show that parents were asked to buy items that could cost $50 to $100 or more in supplies.

District officials are also combing through the JCPS budget to find additional money so teachers can buy other supplies for their classroom.

The district currently gives schools $140 per student annually for classroom supplies, or $13.5 million annually, said Cordelia Hardin, chief financial officer for JCPS. She says that is $3.7 million more than the $100 minimum prescribed by state budget rules.

Hardin says the district has a $9 million carryover from its budget last year that can be used to help cover the additional cost. 

Some teachers told WDRB Friday that one problem with having a general supply list is that they all don't use the same materials.

"It depends on the grade level, subject and even the program the person teaches," one teacher said. "The last thing I want is to end up with supplies that my students won't use."

Officials say they expect there to be some variance at the different levels and will honor the fact that there are different supplies needed at the different levels.

"We don't want this to be a burden on our teachers, we want them to have the supplies they need in order to help their students be successful," said Dewey Hensley, chief academic officer. "At the same want to relieve parents from the burden of purchasing things we believe should be purchased by the school."

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0839 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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