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Community Classroom Supplies?
Old 07-16-2019, 09:39 PM
 
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I have always had the students put their name on and keep the supplies they bring in at the beginning of the year with the exception of their duplicates; I put those away for when they need them. Now, after all these years , I'm wondering if I should just do community supplies. "Everyone, dump all your glue sticks in this container." type of thing.

I'm sure many of you do this. So, does it work well for you? What are the pros/cons? I worry about those students who don't treat supplies well. You know, like those students who just can't seem to press gently with the dry erase markers no matter how much you preach.


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Old 07-16-2019, 10:36 PM
 
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I think a lot of this depends on the school community. If you're in a low SES area where most people are just buying the cheapest thing they can find, probably not a big deal. Most teachers at my school do community supplies and it works out fine. If you're in a wealthier area where parents are buying special/nicer supplies, I'd expect complaints. They're going to be none too pleased if they buy specific supplies or especially themed/decorated stuff and their kid ends up with Rose Art crayons and Dixon pencils.

If your supply lists aren't already out, I'd include a big note on them about the supplies being community supplies to try to prevent issues. I was a giant nerd who got really excited about buying school supplies as a kid. I would have done fine if the whole "community supplies" thing was explained to me BEFORE shopping for them. Showing up at school the first day and having all of my things "taken away"- not so much.
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Old 07-16-2019, 11:49 PM
 
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There is nothing more annoying than going out and buying the expensive Fiskar scissors that were named by brand on the supply list and having your kid have to use cheap safety scissors because not everyone followed the list, and the teacher does community supplies.

Add on, it’s not fair to the kid that takes care of his/her stuff to have to deal with chewed up pencils and three broken red crayons because the kid that doesn’t take care of stuff is at the same table as him.

In my class, your supplies are your supplies, and you are responsible for taking care of them. Now I do find a way, usually by stocking up at back to school sales and the dollar tree, to have a small stash for the kid whose parents may not have been able to afford supplies. We also have an amazing PTO that has donated supplies in the past upon hearing of a need, but I only supply once. Then I expect you to take just as much pride in your things and be responsible with them as your neighbor who’s parents bought their supplies.

I also make sure to have school supplies in my class store, and to gift them for special occasions. I can get enough seasonal erasers, pencils, etc. for my whole class at ~$5 if I visit Dollar Tree in a timely manner. They walk in to a little treat a few times a year.

My other argument against community supplies is the yearly cost to parents. I have every child place their extra supplies in a gallon ziploc bag at the beginning of the year that they use to replenish their supplies as needed due to lost items or wear and tear. Everything still in the bag at the end of the year goes home with its owner. There is a good deal of overlap between grade level supply lists, so anything that goes home unused is one less thing that the parents need to buy come next year.

In short, I hate community supplies. They’re only pro is that they help keep kids from feeling bad about not having the means to buy their supplies, but there are other ways around that issue. The. One, IMHO, are numerous. The only way I see community supplies working is at schools where either the school or the parents provide a supply fee and the teacher is using that money to purchase supplies.

Last edited by seenthelight; 07-16-2019 at 11:52 PM.. Reason: Fixed an incorrect autocorrect
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:12 AM
 
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I went to classroom supplies after I had a bunch of kids try to trim the hair off their legs with the scissors they'd stored in their desks.
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Old 07-17-2019, 04:11 AM
 
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I’m at a high poverty school. Our lists are extremely short (maybe 3-5 items). Most supplies are donated. I always did community supplies when I was a classroom teacher.
I had #d pencil boxes and each student had one that they kept in their desk with a few specific things that we used all the time: 3 pencils, an eraser, cloth piece for dry erase, a red colored pencil. (There May have been more, it’s been a few years)

I disagree with the implication that community supplies means the materials are in worse shape or are junky somehow. Having community supplies allowed me to monitor materials, replace things that were broken/empty and make sure everyone had what they need. I could not say the same for whatever was shoved in the desk of my 2nd graders.


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Old 07-17-2019, 04:16 AM
 
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I work in a Title I school and have never done community supplies. Pencils are the only thing that I collect and we all use, I swear they eat pencils!

Mostly because when I was younger I know that I loved picking my supplies out and would have been quite upset to not get my specials items to use.

I buy the large 2.5 gallon hefty zip bags and each student gets one for the supplies we don’t need immediately. Their name goes on it and they all go in a bin or in a cabinet. Then, as they run low on supplies I can easily tell them to go to their bag. Anything we don’t use goes home at the end of the year. My school also has a very transient population so this makes it easy when kids move too.

I do have extras of everything for students who don’t have supplies. We get donations of supplies for students who can’t afford them and at meet the teacher they can get a backpack filled with the supplies from their grade level’s list.

(This is third grade)

Last edited by Lilbitkm; 07-17-2019 at 11:05 AM..
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Old 07-17-2019, 04:43 AM
 
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I do community supplies in my K class. Teaching sharing, blah blah. I make it clear to parents they need to buy the specific items on the list. If a kid brings a special, off-list item (fancy pencils, scissors, whatever), I send it home. We all use the same things in my class.
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Supplies
Old 07-17-2019, 04:54 AM
 
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I do it partially.
Pencils, glue sticks, rubber erasers, sticky notes, highlighters, and pens are community. There is a basket on each table stocked with a enough for everyone in the group. I go through and replace/replenish as needed with the hopes of making things last longer.

It specifically says teachers may collect supplies on the list. It also says things like “yellow highlighter” or “plain #2 pencils” or “plain solid color pocket folders” on the list. Because the list clearly discourages parents from buying the fancy/trademark items, I don’t feel particularly guilty about collecting supplies.

Students also bring pencils boxes. These are what hold their colors, scissors, and other supplies. I keep these in a cabinet until we need the materials inside them.

I have never had complaints. I HAVE sent home materials that did not follow the list - like Frozen themed pencils, for example!
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Old 07-17-2019, 05:05 AM
 
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absolutely hated community supplies. It was not that they didn’t want to share but rather that the community supplies often weren’t well cared for by the group. I wouldn’t do it.
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Old 07-17-2019, 05:33 AM
 
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I tried it one year and it was a train wreck. It was partially how I handled it and monitored it (2nd year teacher, no clue what I was doing ), but I hated it.

Kids are responsible for their own supplies.


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Old 07-17-2019, 05:34 AM
 
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I think it depends on the age group too. Older students typically have less supplies, and the supplies can all be stored in a pencil case or desk with little to no issues. I have my students keep all their supplies, but I keep a very short supply list too. I think weeding out things that aren't necessary really helps. Some of the back to school supply lists I've seen are outrageous.

I do keep a shelf with extra supplies in case students lose or don't have something.
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it depends
Old 07-17-2019, 05:52 AM
 
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Certain things are personal supplies and others are community.

On the first day, we sort and organize supplies. Each student has their zipper pouch or pencil box. It is empty. I say, "put your scissors in your box", followed by crayons, one glue stick, two pencils, one highlighter, dry erase marker, one chunky eraser.

Everything else goes in tubs in the closet. When they need another glue stick, etc., I give it to them.

I keep a basket of sharpened pencils. When they need one, they take one and place the unsharpened pencil in another basket.

Responsibility is a different issue. You have to monitor and train students to take care of things. If the same child is constantly up to get another pencil, then I deal with that student.

We are very specific when it comes to supplies. No fancy pencils. They ruin the pencil sharpeners and cause jealousy issues. I send them back home to do homework. The same with fancy folders.

Tissues, paper towels, copy paper, ziplocks, etc. are all community items. I take them out when needed.

I have never had a parent complain, and if I did, I would tell them to take the items back home. No drama for this mama!
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:00 AM
 
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I guess I’m one of the only ones in favor of community supplies 😜 I strongly disagree with a lot of the statements, but each teacher has gotta do what’s best for their room.

I’ve taught 2nd and 3rd, and always done community supplies. I do also have to point out, I’ve only had desks one year, so some of it is space related. I hate the playing in desks/supplies.

At Open House I have baskets out for each supply item. Kids put them in the baskets with their parents- I do tell parents at this time that it’s communal supplies. If there are any items they don’t want their child sharing, they’re welcome to take it home at that point. I’ve only had one “complaint” in 11 years (at least to my face)- and even that was just asking why he wasn’t using his own supplies.

Benefits:
-no playing with supplies in desks
-control over supplies... I can see at all times what items we are low on/need to be replenished (and less waste)
-mine do a good job teaching each other responsibility for supplies- there’s always the one kid that really likes it organized, and it helps those that struggle with organization haha
-my first 7 years I was at a school with 94% free and reduced lunch- a lot of my kids didn’t have supplies, so this helped balance... and prevented me from buying as much
-pencils- I only put out boring pencils at tables... the “fancy” (decorated ones) were at the reading table- this way it eliminates arguing over the purple pencil, or Pokémon pencil, and also helped keep pencils from walking away from the reading table

And I guess I don’t understand the parents that go over the top with supplies. The “expensive scissors” aren’t a necessity- to me, there’s not a difference in supplies. Parents need to stop spending extra money on things that aren’t important. Think of how many instructional resources we could have if they just donated that excess money to the classroom 🤔
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:17 AM
 
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I do a mix. For the things that are typically community supplies (such as pencils) if the student brought in some special, cute designed ones I would let them keep them for their own use.



Some typical community supplies:
Tissues and wipes

Pencils

Markers
Glue
Dry erase markers (I use these most in centers and small groups)


Some typical individual supplies:
Crayons (in their pencil box)
Scissors (esp. since many probably at least picked their favorite color)
Any notebooks, folders, composition books, etc
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Community supplies
Old 07-17-2019, 06:27 AM
 
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I did a bit of both. And over the summer, parents got a grade and brand specific supply list.

Crayons, scissors, and markers stayed in their own desks. I collected glue sticks, scotch tape, regular pencils, white glue, and handed them out as necessary.

Over the years I collected extra markers and crayons and each were placed in a dish pan. If you ran out or couldn’t find yours, you could get it from dishpan.
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:36 AM
 
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I do not recommend community supplies for the reasons already provided from other posters. I also have students keep extra supplies in ziploc bags to use as needed. On the first day of school students sort through their supplies and keep 5 pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, red pen, highlighter, eraser, 1 glue stick in the pencil bag at their desk. All other supplies go into the baggie to replenish their desk bag as needed throughout the year. We do a supply check on Fridays to make sure we are ready for the next week. The extra supplies will either go home or are passed to the next teacher at the end of the year. most often pencils, a couple red pens, and maybe a glue stick or two are all that is left.

I should note that I have classroom sets of some items like scissors, rulers, compasses, and protractors that students do not need to bring to school.
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Old 07-17-2019, 07:22 AM
 
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I want to clarify that when I say fancy or expensive, it’s not themed or decorative. Most of the supply lists I’ve had to buy from have been brand specific, and may be because I’m a rule follower or may be because I’m a teacher and want to have that respect for a fellow teacher, I follow the list. If it says Fiskar, I buy Fiskar. If it says Westcott, even though I personally prefer Fiskar, I buy Wescott. Unfortunately, I’ve learned over time that not everyone does this, and I’ve been irked by it personally. I’m going to buy the Fiskar’s on your list because it’s what you requested, but “Johnny’s” mom (who in my case had the money, but was a why should I have to buy supplies type) didn’t want to spend the money on the Fiskars or go to the hassle of looking for the back to school deal. I bought what was requested. I took the time and expense to buy exactly what was on the list, so I think it’s only reasonable to expect my student to have those items and not the ones that don’t work.

Our own list as a school is brand specific, not because we want the fancy stuff, but because we want what we have found to work. The Fiskars are more expensive, but they cut cleanly and tend to be rather indestructible. The crayolas tend to color a lot more true than the rose art, and are pretty cheap if you hit the right back to school sale. I once found them at Target for 10¢ during a mega back to school sale few years back. But every year, we get the few kids that bring in the supplies that don’t work, and that’s fine, either they make it work or their parents send in the requested supplies (which are now significantly more expensive because it’s not “back to school”) after the third time that their child’s scissors break, or after their child complains enough about how their scissors keep tearing their work instead of actually cutting it.

I also want to clarify that I do have some community supplies. We pool things like tissue and soap.

I have seen community supplies work, but it was at a school with a supply fee. Parents paid X amount, and the teacher used that money to go out and buy all the supplies. Otherwise, you have absolutely no control over what is sent in. Yes, you can send home the Frozen pencils, but imagine the uproar if you sent home the cheapy supplies. The solution to that, IMHO, is to say buy whatever you want. Follow the list or don’t, completely up to you, but whatever you send in is what your child will be using.
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Old 07-17-2019, 08:57 AM
 
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I have both.

If the items are purchased by me or the school they are community supplies. If the kids buy them, they use their own.
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Thank you!
Old 07-17-2019, 09:11 AM
 
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Wow! Great points all around.

I teach 5th and have always collected tissues, baggies, paper towels, and desk wipes, but everything else has been theirs. Maybe I'll try a combination by also collecting index cards and Post-its (since they tend to abuse these) and glue sticks since those are pretty generic. The other materials they can keep in their pencil boxes/bags.

I like the idea of putting their extras in storage bags. I usually collect their extras after they label them with their name/initials and just put them all in a box. Individual bags would make much better sense. It will definitely save time when it comes to searching for their materials.

Thank you all for your input and suggestions.
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Community supplies
Old 07-17-2019, 12:50 PM
 
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Like PP suggested, I would gauge your school community. I would also check to see if your administration will back you on this.

Also be careful if families move or kids are pulled in the middle of the year. Some parents expect all the supplies returned and admin will not back you if you refuse or try to explain about community supplies.

And some parents are proud and don't want anyone to know their kid got donated supplies.

I am a different animal as I teach special ed and want to prevent issues, attacks, fights, tantrums and perserveration around supplies. I hand out supplies as needed and get them back at the end of work time.

Some classes I need to make sure we have all yellow pencils and all black dry erase markers. Any pencils given as rewards or gifts are either put in the backpack immediately to go home or donated to the class supplies. I usually only pull those out if we get desperate at the end of the year.

Our school uses/gets Title funds for supplies so most of the supplies are community. We may get supplies from 25 percent of parents at the start of the year, but the school or community funds replacements. At the elementary level most needy kids are given donated backpacks with supplies. At the middle and high schools supplies are donated directly to the staff.

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Individual!!!
Old 07-17-2019, 03:22 PM
 
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In addition to all the reasons given above, I find community supplies to be a germfest! No kid should have to use the pencil that the sick kid just put in his mouth.
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Old 07-17-2019, 04:00 PM
 
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Thanks for the additional input.

Readandweep--My principal is cool with either way. The teachers in the building already handle the supplies in different ways.

Lakeside--Pencils would be something that wouldn't be collected. And yes, they definitely do a number on those pencils.
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:47 PM
 
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A little back ground info-My state has a law that says we can not have a required supplies list or tell the families that they need to provide supplies for students. This law makes all supplies 100% voluntary donations so we cant say they are supposed to bring them or remind student to bring in supplies.

Because of that I have about 1/2 to 1/3 f the class NEVER BRING ANYTHING. The parents know they dont have to and I am required to provide their child with all supplies and many take advantage of this even though they can all afford it.

Some classes still do individual supplies and just buy stuff for the kids who dont bring them-I find this unnecessary and since I dont have room to store personal stuff AND a shared cache of supplies too.

I work in an upper middle class neighborhood. I cannot afford to live there by a long shot. I detest the idea that somehow I should buy supplies for a family that more than doubles my income.

I have not found shared supplies to be any less well taken care of.

So, its all community supplies. I do send home a note making it clear that all supplies will be shared so save special pencils and stationary for home. We also must say on our list that student will be provided all supplies if families choose not to send any in. It outlines that all supplies are voluntary donations and will be shared by the whole class. Supplies all have a place but they are not stored in desks they are kept in a cabinet and group sets are brought out when they are needed. Actually I think this is why the supplies arent abused-I would know immediately if a table group was mistreating their supplies. They do keep 2 pencils, an eraser, and a dry erase pen in their desks since we use them most of the day every day but everything else gets doled out as needed and kept neat by the supplies monitor. I really prefer this method and I would hate to go back to individual supplies where kids horde them in their desk, lose them and then a need new stuff from me all the time. Desks are kept fairly empty and neat and pencil boxes aren't getting knocked off desks or played in all day and sticky notes arent get made into paper doll clothes while I am teaching.

Also I have sharp and unsharp pencil bins-so kids always have a sharp pencil at hand when needed. They take a pencil and leave a pencil-fancy plastic wrapped pencils clog up electric sharpeners and after losing 2 electric sharpeners to plastic shredding clogs I only allow plain yellow pencils in class so pencils might as well be shared too. I tried individual manual sharpeners but they spill shaving all over the room or want to stand at the garbage can for 20 minutes talking with a friend every time their pencil needed to be sharpened.

Quote:
Responsibility is a different issue. You have to monitor and train students to take care of things. If the same child is constantly up to get another pencil, then I deal with that student.

We are very specific when it comes to supplies. No fancy pencils. They ruin the pencil sharpeners and cause jealousy issues. I send them back home to do homework. The same with fancy folders.
Exactly what I think!

Last edited by Kinderkr4zy; 07-17-2019 at 07:08 PM..
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Old 07-17-2019, 09:26 PM
 
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Somewhat off topic, but related. Usually the problem is responsibility when supplies are lost or destroyed, but not always. Sometimes anxiety comes into play. I had a major pencil chewer, but it was totally involuntary. He did it when nervous. During tests, it would look like a beaver had gotten hold of his pencil. However, back on topic, whether because of carelessness and irresponsibility or anxiety, the other kids shouldn’t have to use a pencil covered in someone else’s teeth marks and saliva.

Also, question for those with community supplies, what do you do when you run low? Most parents are willing to replenish their own child’s supplies if they manage to go through them, but I can see some push back if they’re having to replenish the class. I’m thinking of the year of the 16 dozen pencils. Multiply that by 22 kids, I know I’d have been miffed if the teacher asked for a replenish in January. Where as with individual supplies, I’d have been miffed with my kiddo for going through 16 dozen pencils in one semester. So do you not get push back, or do you guys supply them out of your own budget and/or pocket? I know between ink and other extra things that I stock up on for projects with the kids, there’s no room in my budget for the regular supplies that were on our list. Therefore, I’d either have to hit up the parents or reach into my own pocket. I sort of stock up anyway for emergencies and my class store, but that isn’t in the amount necessary to supply the entire class.
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Old 07-18-2019, 11:24 PM
 
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Quote:
individual supplies where kids horde them in their desk, lose them and then a need new stuff from me all the time. Desks are kept fairly empty and neat and pencil boxes aren't getting knocked off desks or played in all day and sticky notes arent get made into paper doll clothes
Kinderkr4zy—That’s exactly why I’ve been wondering if I should switch.

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what do you do when you run low?
Seenthelight—I was wondering about that, too. However, usually the only thing the kids really seem to use up are pencils. If I make that something not shared, then when/if they run out, parents should be cool with replenishing those. (We a middle/upper district, too.)

I find that the glue sticks and scissors get borrowed from me as the year goes on when they simply can’t find theirs. That’s because they’re not being responsible, and I’m finding ones that were never labeled on the floor. Those always get tossed into our “help yourself” bin if no one claims them. If I make those community supplies, then we should be good and not run out. I always have extras in my closet—just in case.
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Old 07-19-2019, 02:17 AM
 
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I'm starting year 20 and have always done community supplies. No parent or child has ever said a negative word about it to me.

When I have a student who destroys supplies, I don't let them use the community supplies. They'll get their own little box of crayons or pencil or will have to use paper/pencil instead of a dry erase board and marker. It's usually one student a year and they often eventually transition back to respectfully using our class supplies.

I teach in a low socioeconomic area. We ask for supplies but I don't track who brings them in. Not all do.

At the end of each year we get a small supply budget to spend at our discretion. I use some of that to purchase crayons or whatnot. I've never run out of anything.

To me managing individual styles would be a headache but I'm sure it's just because I never have before.
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Old 07-19-2019, 10:23 AM
 
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Thanks for your input! I like how you kind of wean them back in if they abuse the community supplies.
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