LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- With less than three weeks before classes begin, Jefferson County Public Schools released a district-wide supply list for its elementary and middle school students on Friday, but cautioned parents to contact their child's school before they go shopping.

The list -- broken down into three grade groups -- includes fundamental items such as a backpack, glue sticks, pencils, crayons, washable markers, notebooks, a pencil box, folders and scissors. The district is allowing schools the ability to subtract an item on the list based on assessed needs, but they cannot add any items.

"We've established a list that's reasonable and consistent for our parents," said Paige Hartstern, an assistant superintendent for JCPS. "We had to have a system that was equitable across the district."

Superintendent Donna Hargens said the fundamental list means "the district is stepping up, parents spend less money and principals will help teachers acquire additional needed items."

Hartstern said the fundamental list gives principals options to customize colors, types or styles of supplies.

"This fundamental list is not the final list parents need from schools," she said. "Parents will receive their final list from schools by next week. Parents should not buy from this fundamental list until they hear from their child's school."

Hartstern said there is not a fundamental list for high schools for 2014-15.

"That review continues," she said.

Some schools were quick to put out their lists on their websites or social media accounts Friday morning, others worked on printing them out and putting them in the mail.

LaRae Whitely, principal of Camp Taylor Elementary School, said she believes having a fundamental list is a good idea.

"We are very large district and we need consistency," she said. "What happens at Camp Taylor needs to be the same at Zachary Taylor."

District officials said Friday they don't want teachers to feel that the burden of buying supplies not found on the fundamental list is on them.

"Principals will order additional classroom supplies based on teacher requests and the district will provide advisement and budgetary support as needed," said Hargens.

Whitely said she is meeting with her teachers to come up with a list of things they need for their classroom that are not on the fundamental list – things like dry erase markers or Ziploc bags.

"I have asked each of my teachers -- 'What do we need to take care of?'" Whitely said. "I told my teachers that no matter what comes out on the fundamental list, I want to be sure that they will get what they need to teach and for (our students) to learn."

Last week, principals got together to come up with a list that gets back to basics, with the goal of eliminating items that many parents had been questioning, including household items like Kool-Aid and disinfectant wipes.

Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen, whose office spent a year auditing the finances of JCPS, has said Friday he applauds district officials for their efforts. He said JCPS and other school systems across the state have "identified expensive lists of school and janitorial supplies that are crushing hard-working families.

Edelen went on to call for other districts to follow Jefferson County's lead.

Hargens referred to Edelen's recent audit in her letter to staff, writing:

"This spring, State Auditor Adam Edelen's Management Performance Review supported a district desire to ensure school supply lists are consistent, fair, and reasonable. District officials, school leaders, and educators have now developed a list of fundamental items that elementary and middle school students require for school. These items include notebooks, folders, pencils, and other essentials."

So how much money will the new list cost families?

"We had some people go out and shop and we were able to buy the items for around $11, without a backpack," Hartstern said.

During a shopping trip to the Bashford Manor Target on Friday afternoon, WDRB News took an old school supply list from Goldsmith Elementary School as well as the new fundamental list -- and went shopping. Both generic and name-brand items were purchased.

The old supply list for a fourth grader was $46.59, while the new list cost $27.60.

Several parents said Friday they're happy with the fundamental list.

"This is fantastic," said Geoff Glaab, whose two children attend Lincoln Elementary and Western Middle schools. "This turns a $75-$100 trip for school supplies into a $20 trip."

And now that the district has tackled the school supply lists – officials are now taking a look at the instructional fees that some schools are charging families.

Instructional fees can range from as little as $10 at one school to as much as $50 at another school. Schools have been using that money for special programming or to buy additional supplies.

"As part of our overall goal to align district practices with what is best for our students and families, we are examining school fees," Hartstern said. "This study will take time and we are at the very beginning of that process."


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

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