Parents dig deep for school costs

Luke Elley is back to school, no matter what the cost.
Luke Elley is back to school, no matter what the cost. Doug Eaton

THE school holidays are over from today for most students at public secondary schools.

Students in Years 7, 11 and 12 at Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Lismore high schools return this morning, with their slightly luckier colleagues in other years joining them tomorrow.

Catholic schools in the region, such as Xavier and St John’s College Woodlawn, give their students an extra day off, resuming tomorrow for Years 7, 11 and 12, with the whole school kicking off lessons on Monday, February 1.

Secondary students at Shearwater Steiner in Mullumbimby are the region’s least fortunate. They were back at their desks yesterday.

Primary children also go back today, although their kindy brethren will be starting next week as they are interviewed under the new Best Start program, which assesses literacy and numeracy levels.

For parents sending their beloved offspring out into the wide world it’s an emotional time – and it can also be tough on the wallet.

Uniform costs for a five-year-old starting kindy at Evans River K-12 School at Evan’s Head total nearly $140 – with shoes at $75, a 3-pack of socks at $2, two pairs of shorts $16 and two shirts at $22 each.

This is before the parent digs deep for a backpack, lunchbox and pencil case – at least another $35.

Leanne Hinton, of Woodburn, has three children going to Evans River this year, with Cooper, 5, starting kindy on Friday, February 5.

Cooper will join Hayden, 12, starting Year 7, and Breanna, 14, Year 9.

Ms Hinton said she hadn’t added up the exact amount she has had to spend, but thought it would be at least $1000.

“I did a shop at Big W the other day and bought three pairs of shoes and some pencils and it cost me $280,” Ms Hinton said.

“I haven’t had to buy new schoolbags this year, but the uniforms wear out in a year.”

And with the age and gender difference, there’s little chance of hand-me-downs in the family.

Joanne Beardow, of Lismore, has had to wear an even heftier bill for her three children.

Son Mitchell, 8, is going into Year 3 at St Carthage’s at a cost of $100 for the uniform and two pairs of shoes at $120.

Kaitlyn, 10, a Year 5 starter at St Carthage’s, doesn’t need a new uniform, so comes in at an economical $50 for new shoes.

But Courtney, 12, will set Ms Beardow back a whopping $800 to start Year 7 at Trinity – and that doesn’t include the book package.

Junior girls at Lismore High will be wearing $55 skirts, a $33 blouse and will need to buy three polos at $35 each. Boys’ shirts and sports shirts are $30 each and shorts are $25. A jumper costs $35, ties for older children are $18 and book packs come in at $40.

A parent outfitting their teen for Years 11 and 12 at Lismore High will pay up to $105 for three shirts for a boy and $50 for a skirt and $105 for blouses for a girl.

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