PICKENS COUNTY - As much as students dread the end of summer, when it comes to school registration, local parents seem to dread it even more.
While the beginning of school means a return to class for kids, for parents it means standing in long class registration lines, filling out their children's information on forms over and over again and getting hit in the wallet for school supplies.
Several new changes made by the district this year are designed to give parents a break and making registering their child for school much easier.
"We'd gotten feedback from our parents about how time-intensive registration could be," said Julie Thompson, director of communication services. "We then looked at ways to streamline this process."
Instead of filling out the same paperwork with the same information again and again, parents of elementary and middle school students will receive their children's forms in a packet that will be sent out to parents beginning this week.
"The packet is color-coded and has a checklist that tells the parent what's in there and what to do with it," Thompson said. "We wanted to make it very easy for a parent to know what is what."
Parents should make sure their children's information is correct, Thompson said.
"If the information has not changed, just check the box," she said. "If the information has changed, update the form. We were finding that for many parents, their information wasn't changing from year to year. They still lived at the same house; their phone numbers were still the same."
High school students will still have to register at their schools, Thompson said.
"Just because there are more steps involved for high school students," she said. "They have to get their textbooks, parking tags, pictures made, etc."
Instructional fees have been eliminated this year, she said.
"Instructional fees have always been charged, with that money going toward supplies," Thompson said. "Over and over, we've heard from parents about the costs involved at the beginning of the year. We looked at what we were taking in with instructional fees and decided we could cover those supplies in other ways."
Parents will only pay for school lunches, or options such as yearbooks or Parent Teacher Association memberships, Thompson said.
"High school students will still pay a $5 class fee," she said. "That money goes into a class fund, which is used for special projects, graduation type events, homecoming floats, those kinds of things."
To further offset beginning of the school year costs, the district will provide "very basic" school supplies at that the beginning of the year.
"We'll be proving each elementary and middle school child very basic supplies at the beginning of the year," Thompson said. "A pack of paper, a pack of pencils, a pack of crayons, things like that."
Rumors that the district will be providing book bags full of supplies to each student are not true, Thompson said.
"They are not getting backpacks," she said. "And we won't be providing supplies throughout the school year. We're trying to help parents out. Starting school is very expensive. There's so much to buy with clothes and shoes. This is a way to help parents ease the financial burden as the school year begins."
To see a full list of supplies provided by the district, or to view a list of "Meet the Teacher" events for your child's school, visit the district Web site at http://pickens.schoolfusion.us