Diboll ISD crunching out school supply numbers as parent complaints skyrocket

Gary Martel
Gary Martel

DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - The school supply debate continues across East Texas as parent complaints about this years school supply list skyrockets.

But Diboll Independent School District says they are beginning to crunch out the numbers to see how much it would cost to put more of the school supply burden on their shoulders.

"I paid for school supplies like every other parent here. I had children in public schools and we did the same thing. And there were times where I questioned why I need 15 boxes of tissue," Gary Martel, the superintendent for Diboll ISD, said.

Martel says the school supply debate is hitting close to home, because he understands how parents feel.

"I have the same questions that a parent has, but I also have an employer who says 'Martel, well, you have to trust us when we say this is what we think we need to make this work,'"Martel said.

For a child in Pre-K 4 at Diboll ISD, 8 packages of crayons is required, which is around 200 crayons a kid. Plus, nearly 100 pencils per student are being asked for elementary students.

That's why Martel says he is working on an initiative this year so that the district can possibly start putting together pre-packaged bulk bundles for parents.

"It may help with some of the issues. Well, go to the 3rd grade supply list...100 No.2 pencils? What we're counting for 100 pencils, I think they are putting that in there so they would have enough. Now, we went back and revisited that," Martel said.

There is no final approval for the supply lists, Martel says, and the decision for how much and how many supplies is based off of teacher committee meetings.

"When you're a district like Diboll and a number around us that have a 72 percent low economic, it is a financial issue. It is an economic issue for that family. So sometimes, I think the numbers are kind of inflated to make sure we have enough for every student," Martel said.

Martel says he has even looked into how much it would cost just for the high school if the administration paid for the supplies.

"If Diboll ISD funded our high school supply list for the students at Diboll High School what would it cost us? It was $86,000 dollars," Martel said.

It's a hefty price tag, but Martel says they need to be proactive about helping parents...and teachers.

"I think there has to be a check and balances in there or question when it comes to school supplies. We just can't keep taking the same list and say 'well, this year we're just going to add to it or this year we ran out of this a little sooner so mark that up and just turn it in,'" Martel said.

While the quotes on prices and the future goals are in the preliminary stages, Martel says he wants people to understand that the school supply issue is a district wide issue because it doesn't only affect parents.

"I can't blame parents for complaining, which you also need to understand is that every one of our parents are teachers too and they buy the same things that they put on that list," Martel said. "But we put all these lists together and we started saying 'hey, what can we do for our parents in Diboll ISD that makes it more economically friendly and feasible for them to go get school supplies."

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