Back to School: Supply lists have changed over time

FOX 11's Kelly Schlicht walks the school supply aisles with a veteran teacher to see what's needed for class nowadays.

ASHWAUBENON - Students will be heading back to school in a matter of weeks. For families, that means crossing items off the school supply lists, and a bit of nostalgia on the part of parents.

As they checked off items, moms shopping at a local store recently marveled at the changes to school supply lists since they went to class.

“There are some items that I don't remember having to purchase, like dry-erase markers and flash drives and ear buds,” said Kris Warren, a mother of three school-aged children from Ashwaubenon.

“Electronics, gadgets, we need headphones. We never used anything like that when I was going to school,” said Carey Fink, whose children go to school in De Pere.

FOX 11’s Kelly Schlicht met up with veteran educator Scott Ronsmans. He teaches sixth grade at Aldo Leopold in Green Bay. Ronsmans walked through the aisles at the Bay Park Square Shopko, and broke down what's changed in the past two decades.

“The biggest of all of those that you didn't even see 10 years ago was the jump drive,” said Ronsmans. “As far as what it can hold, geez, 4 GB is going to work very well with what the student is going to do.”

Flash drives: a far cry from the floppy disks used back in the 1990s.

“This holds probably the equivalent of like, 10,000 floppy disks can fit on that,” said Ronsmans.

Though more high-tech items like jump drives have made appearances on school supply lists, teachers say nothing beats a number two pencil.

“Me and pencils!” Ronsmans exclaimed. “Pencils, you get what you pay for. Buy the more expensive pencils, and you'll use it right down to the, I'm not even kidding! You'll use it to the nub. Get the cheap ones, you'll sharpen them once, and you might as well throw them out because the lead is crooked.”

Ronsmans says the same about name-brand Crayons like Crayola.

“We've tried to use the ones that you get off-brand and again, you get what you pay for,” said Ronsmans.

However, Ronsmans says parents may find themselves buying a wide variety of items to share with the class.

“That's how we are filling that niche with the budget cuts is asking the parents to provide a lot more of that stuff like tissues, like sanitary wipes, so on and so forth. That's why. That's how we're trying to combat that situation,” he explained.

Parents say that's certainly a change.

“I think just different than the concept of it being one for you, instead of one for you and one for your neighbor and everybody else is chipping in,” said Fink.

And while it's tough on their budgets, some parents say they understand.

“I don't think that teachers should have to pay for those supplies out of pocket. I have no problem with that. I wish that it wasn't all they request that everything is brought in on meet the teacher night, which is before school even starts,” said Warren.

Before the kids head back, Ronsmans recommends shopping around.

“You know, look for sales. But again, don't skimp on crayons. Don't skimp on pencils. If you're going to cut corners, do it on paper, tissue, things like that,” said Ronsmans.

Ronsmans says by looking for deals, families may be able to afford making this school year one to remember.