'When did school become so unaffordable for families?'
GETTING the kids ready to go back to school is stressful enough for parents, but the rising costs of technology, uniforms and books are putting additional strain on many parents.
Local Proserpine mother of four Rachel Halsall has had three of her four children start high school, but this year when her youngest daughter started year seven she felt the pinch.
"I've seen three elder children through high school and never in all of those years have I seen costs like this,” she said.
"It cost me $1391 not including books and stationary,” which she estimates will set her back an additional $120.
E-learning at Proserpine State High School is undertaken by years seven to twelve, in 2018 year eight to twelve students' are able to lease the computers for $250, but year sevens in 2018 must pay $700-$1300 depending on the chosen computer to partake in the curriculum.
Mother of twins starting year 7 in 2018 Tina Keogh said that "the cost it's getting out of control,” in regards to the requirement of paying out for computers in addition to other school requirements.
Other parents are opting not to purchase laptops for their children's education due to issues incorporating technology into everyday life causes, mother Angie Ciavarella said "I refused to buy IPad/laptop as I not only couldn't afford it, I also refused on principal, kids need to learn to do their work the old fashioned way.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said "Proserpine SHS has implemented ways to remain cost effective for parents while ensuring students are equipped with the digital literacy skills they need through access to communication, networking and computing technology both in and out of the classroom.”
"The school continues to work with individual families to ensure that any child who does not have a personal device is not disadvantaged in accessing the curriculum, and have a number of devices available for use by students who do not have their own.”
This is due to what Ms Halsall said "multiple computers not being returned,” by the 2017 year seven cohort "all families beginning year 7 this year are penalised and must come up with the full amount.”
Technology aside Ms Halsall said she had to pay for formal and casual school uniforms, in addition to a reduced rate $220 Student Resource Scheme contribution that is currently $486 for senior and $343 for junior students at Proserpine State High School.
For the first time in her life Ms Halsall had to seek assistance from the Proserpine Community Centre in the form of a no interest loan through the NILS scheme, to ensure she could afford to send her daughter to school with what she needed.
"Nothing like feeling like a failure when try as you might, you just can't cover your child's school fees and I know I'm not the only one,” Ms Halsall said.
Despite the stress it has caused Ms Halsall she wanted to make it clear that she thinks Proserpine State High School is doing a brilliant job and understands that "structure of fees is not up to our wonderful teachers, and of course they don't have the answers to this problem,” she simply just wanted to know who does.
If you felt the pinch this year sending your child or children to school, email Tamera.Francis@whitsundaytimes.com.au or phone 0429139304.