People planning Back-to-School shopping without annual tax-free weekend

Published: Jul. 11, 2023 at 7:16 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 11, 2023 at 8:04 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The annual back-to-school holiday weekend in August would-have removed the 5.3 percent sales tax on hurricane preparedness items, clothing and school supplies. Tax-Free weekend was a big deal to many Virginia parents hoping to save some money on getting the new school year started right, but some say they are prepared.

“We like to stay, kind of, stocked up with pencils and markers, paper, and all that stuff in the house so I guess we’re a little ahead of the game which is good but it’s still going to be. I’m sure hard on a lot of families,” Father of Four Jason Parker said.

According to Rockingham County Public Schools Director of Community Engagement Katie LaPira, the average cost of sending a child back to school with just the basic supplies is about $150 per student.

United Way of Rockingham County & Harrisonburg’s annual event, “Stuff the Bus”, was about having everything for the classroom. The new back to school campaign, “Tools for Schools” looks to bring as much ease to students and their families with provisions for new clothes and haircuts.

Teachers say they are sad to see the sales holiday go because it provided a tax break on school supplies for their classrooms. One teacher at Elkton Middle School says he is used to getting an allowance to buy what they need, but they are not letting this change shake up their confidence.

“When you’re a teacher, you’re a leader; you’re the leader of the classroom and you’re in charge of the however, many students that you have. Part of good leadership is you don’t wanna be panicking or be upset or irritated when certain situations arise. We’re going to continue to run things the same; I’m still gonna use the same amount of supplies — gotta take things as it comes at you,” Eighth Grade Civics Teacher Eric Wimer said.

Some back-to-school preppers offer a few tricks to make the money work for you, like getting rubber pencils.

“They last longer, they’re safer, there’s no lead, the lead won’t break and these actually, so that’s a good alternative,” Parker said.

Tools for Schools is a community-wide drive for getting school supplies for those who need it. It is happening August 12 with donation boxes everywhere but the says the benefit doesn’t end there.

Generosity from the public is crucial to “Tools for Schools” being a success.

“Even if they’re not able to make it to that resource fair for tools for schools, they’ll be setting aside some of those extra supplies, so that we can have them here in our teacher supply depot for our teachers and for our students,” LaPira said.

Everything donated is tax deductible for the campaign. United Way’s status as a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization can help the donation of dollar amounts be durable.

“They are able to purchase the supplies are tax free and then give them to our schools so they make sure that our students in Rockingham county public schools and Harrisonburg City Schools will have the supplies that they need,” LaPira said.

No matter what happens, people are determined for everyone to be confident on the first day of school and the new school year. Jason Parker shared that anyone needing help can come to Main Street Saints in Harrisonburg.