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Backpack Index: Prepare To Spend On Supplies, Sports

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The cost of back-to-school supplies continues to rise and it’s not just pens, scissors and glue that you will drain your pocket.

Each year, the Huntington Bank conducts what they call a “Backpack Index” and this year, it went up to by almost 25 percent.

The survey says you can expect to pay more than you ever have on extracurricular activity fees.

Parents shopping at Target on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis are feeling the pinch.

“You have to get everything new — a new back pack every year, and a new lunch box cause everything’s changing,” said mother Nicole Bucher.

It’s not only your kids’ taste that’s changing, so has an ever-growing list of supplies.

“Last year, it was like $70 or something, by the time we got done, and she’s in kindergarten,” Bucher said.

WCCO-TV decided to do a little pricing comparison by randomly selecting a fourth grade list. After putting all the items on the list in the cart, the grand total equals around $70.

According to the Huntington Bank, the expense has to do with state and local cutbacks forcing more schools to pass the pain on to parents.

“Schools are getting less money, and so we have to make up for it, and, you know, it’s certainly not easy to keep putting it on the parents for sure,” Bucher said.

Edina High School’s Athletic Director John Soma said their “pay-to-play fees” also went up from last year by around 10 percent.

“These are important programs we need to keep running, so this is the way we make ends meet is to kind of raise fees a little bit, and it goes back to the families,” Soma said.

Those fees range anywhere from starting at $40 for school plays all the way up to $200 to play football and hockey. While the collected money helps to offset coaches’ salaries, buses, officials and fees, the fees don’t include some of the equipment costs.

Soma said the increased fees have forced about 10 percent of Edina families to take the school up on scholarships.

“Loss of job or budgets are tight in the family,” said Soma. “we usually are able to work with those families to make it work out.”

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