Parents and teachers who have not completed their back-to-school shopping when Liberty County public schools resume Wednesday, Aug. 7, still can save money on needed supplies and clothing during the 2013 tax-free weekend Friday-Saturday, Aug. 9-10.
“We are thankful for the upcoming tax-free weekend,” Liberty County School Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee said. “School-supply lists will be posted on the school and district websites. Parents may want to review the lists and determine which supplies are an absolute must to purchase prior to the start of school. Delaying purchases of big-ticket items may provide parents with some welcomed savings advantages.”
“I think, in this economy, the tax-free weekend is a great advantage to parents, especially when it comes to savings on school uniforms, computers, etc.,” Liberty College and Career Academy CEO Tom Alexander said.
The sales-tax holiday was reinstated last year under the Georgia Jobs and Family Tax Reform Plan, according to georgia.gov. August 2012 was the first year since 2009 that Georgia families had a tax-free holiday to help them ready their students for school.
Sales-tax-exempt items include: school supplies to be used in the classroom or in classroom-related activities with a sales price of $20 or less per item, clothing and shoes priced at $100 or less per item and personal computers and pc-related accessories costing $1,000 or less per item, according to ga.gov. However, accessories such as jewelry, watches, umbrellas and handbags are excluded from the sales-tax exemption. The exemption also excludes furniture, cellular devices and computer-related accessories geared toward recreational use, according to ga.gov.
Although the tax-free holiday will help parents who may be struggling, the timing could hinder some local families who want their children fully prepared on the first day of school.
“Most parents go out and buy supplies ahead of time,” Lyman Hall Elementary School Principal Claire Blanchard said. Blanchard said some parents called Lyman Hall to request supply lists as early as three weeks ahead of the Aug. 7 start date. She said many parents want to have their shopping done before school starts, because that is when their children are most excited about heading back to the classroom.
Frank Long Elementary School Principal Judy Hellgren said she and her faculty try to give families some leeway in purchasing supplies. Hellgren said military families who have just moved to the area might not have had the opportunity to buy supplies or school uniforms. Other families might not be able to afford uniforms or the necessary supplies, she added.
“Frank Long has been lucky; we partner with different people like Target and Dollar General,” Hellgren said. “Community members will buy extra supplies and put it in a box at these stores, and these stores will bring the supplies in.”
Hellgren said some parents are kind enough to buy extra uniforms so teachers can loan those uniforms to students who otherwise might go without.
“We’re a little family community over here,” she said.
Parents who cannot afford uniforms for their children may be relieved to know that the Liberty County School System will hold a uniform giveaway for families in need. The LCSS social work department will distribute free, gently worn uniforms for needy students from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., or until the donated uniforms run out, Friday, July 26, at Liberty County High School.
“This is the second time we’ve had the uniform drive,” LCSS social-worker Yolanda Sharpe said. “The first year we had it, we served over 300 families. It’s always a big event.”
Local retailers say parents and teachers already are purchasing school supplies, but still expect heavy traffic Aug. 9-10.
“We are fully stocked and ready for the sales-tax holiday,” VIP Office Furniture and Supply Retail Operations Executive Cathy O’Hagan said. Along with parents preparing for the start of school, teachers and school officials have been into VIP, O’Hagan said.
“We also have materials to accommodate homeschooling,” she added.