It’s almost back-to-school time in Summit County |

It’s almost back-to-school time in Summit County

Kathryn Corazzelli
Summit Daily News
Summit Daily/Mark Fox Students decked out with new backpacks and clothes reunite with teachers on the first day of school at Upper Blue Elementary last August 23. The new school year for the Summit School District starts next Monday.

As the first day of school nears, parents and children all over Summit County are busying themselves with a ritual that has become a rite of passage for most families: back-to-school shopping.

Breckenridge parent Karin Bearnarth, who has two children – a daughter entering the eighth grade and a son entering the sixth – said she had to “step up the wardrobe” a bit this year to get some “cooler” stuff for her middle schoolers. Since her son loves Shaun White, they shopped his line at Target. For her daughter, they traveled to Denver to visit Ross. Bearnarth said the store has a wide selection of clothing and the price is right. She spends about $100 to $150 on each child’s new wardrobe.

“In these economic times, there’s no more going to Nordstrom,” she said.

Silverthorne parent Cindy Bargell has one daughter entering the fifth grade and one entering the sixth, and also goes to Denver to shop. She visits a store called Justice, geared towards pre-teen girls, where she buys them one outfit each for the beginning of the school year. In a back-to-school ritual, the girls’ aunt takes them to Kohl’s before each school year, where Bargell “lets her spoil them to an extent.” Bargell’s daughters also get hand-me-downs from older children, and in turn, they hand down their used clothing to others. She said everyone in the community helps each other out.

“There’s not a lot of places in Summit County that sell kids’ clothes, other than Target or Walmart,” said Silverthorne parent Leah Baxter, who has two boys, ages 9 and 12. Sometimes she can find deals at Zumiez or the Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, both at the Outlets at Silverthorne, “but you have to hit it just right.” She usually goes down to Denver to hit up T.J. Maxx or Ross. Bearnarth’s daughter does like Rue 21 at the Outlets, but overall, Bearnarth finds shopping in the High Country difficult. Bargell said it’s hard to find clothes in Summit County for that “in-between age” – too big for children’s clothes but too little for adult sizes.

Baxter said while she’s already purchased a few wardrobe essentials for her boys, the cost of supplies have cut into their back-to-school budget.

“We’re required to buy a lot,” she said. “It usually ends up being over $100 just for those supplies alone.”

Each school has a separate supply list for every grade, most of which include things like pencils, crayons, binders and Kleenex. Baxter said she finds deals at Office Max, while Bearnarth likes Walmart. She also spends about $100 per child.

Bargell, along with a few other parents she knows, tries her best to use existing supplies from home. She said she spent under $75 per child on classroom needs.

Besides wardrobe and supplies, there are other costs associated with going back-to-school. Some are uniform for all students and established by the Board of Education – like registration fees – while others are course- or activity-specific, said Karen Strakbein, assistant superintendent for business services.

Each school has an instructional materials fee for each student, due at registration: $22 at the elementary schools, $44 at Summit Middle School and $55 at Summit High School. The middle and high school have activity fees for sports teams which are due throughout the year, depending on when the sport is played. At the high school, students pay $100 for each sport, excluding ice hockey, which costs $300. At the middle school, students pay $55 for interscholastic athletics and $30 for intramural. After-school activities cost $40 at the high school, and $25 and $15 at the middle school.

Strakbein said there are also individual fees associated with some classes, like pottery.

At the high school, there is also a $55 parking fee per semester.

While the cost of school may seem expensive, Strakbein said Summit County is lucky. Last year’s mill levy increase has helped the district avoid extra fees other districts are charging to make up for a lack of funding, she said.

Strakbein said only students who are going to participate in a sport need to get a physical. Those are due by the first day of practice, said Amy Raymond, athletic director at the high school. Raymond said physicals can be obtained at all regular physicians, or at any Summit Youth Services Center locations for $25 throughout the school year.

“A physical is good for one calendar year, so if they get it mid-May or when our sports are over for the year, it will be good all the way through,” Raymond said.

Deb Estreich, director of transportation for the school district, reminds drivers to be aware of children walking to school or waiting at bus stops, especially between the hours of 6:30 – 8:45 a.m. and 2:45 – 5 p.m. Children under the age of 10 have one-third the peripheral vision adults do, so “it makes them difficult for them to judge the speed or distance of oncoming traffic,” she said.

Estreich said during warmer weather, several hundred children walk or ride bikes to their respective schools each day.

She also reminds drivers to “be prepared to stop for a school bus.” When bus lights are flashing amber, it’s a warning the bus is preparing to stop. When they’re flashing red, the bus is stopped and traffic from both sides are required to stop.

Parents should remind their children to “be a safe pedestrian” while they’re walking to bus stops, and arrive at least five minutes ahead of time, she said. If children are walking, Estreich said parents should help them choose the safest route and do a walk-along with their children.

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