New Castle News

July 27, 2013

Survey says: Back-to-school costs to rise

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The cost of preparing a student for school will rise this year. And the increase will exceed the inflation rate.

That’s the conclusion of Huntington’s eighth annual Backpack Index, which looks at the costs of school supplies and extracurricular activities for students in kindergarten through high school.

This year’s index found costs will grow an average of 7.3 percent for school supplies compared to the 1.39 percent Consumer Price Index.

On average, the index estimates parents will pay:

•$577 for elementary school students, a 5.3 percent increase over 2012

•$763 for middle school students, a 5.3 percent increase

•$1,223 for high school students, a 9.5 percent increase.

As with most years, the index prices backpacks from Big Lots. It also includes traditional school supplies such as paper, pencils and erasers. And it lists the price of renting musical instruments as well as playing sports. No one particular item spiked in price this year, the report found. Small increases across the board account for the rising costs.

Each year, the index factors in new technology that becomes prevalent for students, such as flash drives a few years ago. The addition of a $300 tablet and its cost would constitute the largest technology expenditure to date. While many schools are providing tablet computers to students, increasing numbers of parents also are buying the devices for their middle and high school students, Huntington reported.

Twenty-three percent of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population, according to a Pew Research Center report issued March 13. The Pew report also indicated 78 percent of teens have a cell phone, and almost half (47 percent) own smartphones.

Each year, Huntington obtains classroom-supply lists from a cross-section of schools throughout the six states it serves and compiles a representative list of required supplies and fees. Costs are determined by selecting moderately priced items at online retailers.