HPISD Wrap Packs. Pretending it’s More Convenient and Less Expensive.

Every August parents e-mail me about these two things and I’m always more than ready for the discussion.

  1. School supplies: Rather than take a school supply list to Office Depot and purchasing items for your children, in HPISD parents pay the PTA and everything is ordered and waiting at the school. It’s pitched as super convenient and less expensive.
  2. Online registration: A convenience fee of $5 is charged for online registration, a requirement for each family. This process is intended to streamline the paperwork and payments and do everything in one place. It would be a total no-brainer if on the first day of school we didn’t get a bajillion forms to fill out and requests for more money for things not mentioned previously.

For kids in 5th-8th grades, there is a “wrap pack pick up night.” It’s a big deal. Each grade level has an assigned time the week before school starts. You go with your child to the gym, pick up the wrap pack (their supplies bundled together) and lug it to their classroom. But to me, convenient would be something like, I have to do nothing- it’s all where it needs to be.

And it would be even more convenient if on the first day of school my kids didn’t bring home a list of supplies needed for non-core classes. Because as long as I’m out picking up those things, I could have saved money on items for every class. Which leads me to the frustrating part- the thing about it being less expensive. I so don’t believe it.

The eighth grade wrap pack was $92 this year. Ninety-two dollars. And I still had to head out and buy these items for Spanish. Spanish!

  1. Book cover
  2. Binder with dividers
  3. Spiral notebook
  4. Red pen
  5. Spanish/English Dictionary (optional)
  6. Box of Kleenex for classroom (optional though appreciated)

Also on the first day of school the same child brought home a permission slip for a Health class field trip to an assisted living facility. The form was to be signed and returned with a check for $15.00 ($5 for the field trip bus and $10 for a CPR certification card from the American Heart Association).  But I paid a class fee during the convenient online registration that I was almost certain included field trips and other things- all the way down to teacher gifts.

The fifth grade wrap pack was $88 but it didn’t include the optional (but apparently necessary) binders that were being sold at pick up night for $18.

All of this seems small in comparison to the 5th grade band instrument rental. I didn’t sign my child up for band. In 5th grade they are required to take 9 weeks. So, as the e-mail AND hard copy letter my daughter brought home said- I have to pay money for something that a public school is requiring my child to do.

Feels like private school with a registration process that falls short of being convenient enough to overlook the fact we’re being charged to use a required system.

31 thoughts on “HPISD Wrap Packs. Pretending it’s More Convenient and Less Expensive.

  • August 24, 2011 at 10:52 am
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    Yep, that about sums it up. Wait ’til high school. No more wrap packs and no clue what they need until the first day of school. You will longingly wish for wrap packs.

    MOM: Why do you need an orange high lighter?

    HS KID: The teacher said so in the syllabus. It MUST be orange.

    MOM: But I have three yellow, three blue and three green right here! I knew you’d need them and I got them early for 25 cents for a 3-pack!

    Yep.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 11:01 am
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    Are my kids going to hate me when they don’t get the “Wrap Pack” like everyone else? It is hands down cheaper to buy all of the supplies yourself from any of the big box office stores. Also, I do remember being “required” to buy all kinds of binders/folders/notebooks/etc. when I was in school and also remember that about half of the stuff went unused. Is it possible to not buy everything under the sun at the beginning of the year and just buy as the need comes up?

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  • August 24, 2011 at 11:02 am
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    I loved the wrap packs. And I love online registration. Most parents value the time saved over the cost. Not everyone is a careful shopper who would save money.

    Maybe the PTA could work with teachers of popular and supply-heavy (apparently) classes like middle school Spanish to do wrap packs for them, too.

    But I agree that public school is expensive. $500 at online registration, another $500 last week for one activity, another $100 this week for assigned and recommended books. Haven’t even discussed special binders or pens and other office supply store needs. Add to that that some sports and activities essentially require expensive summer camps to stay on the team, and–well, just wait till your kid gets to high school.

    The extra paperwork and purchases this week were for individual classes. Not sure that could easily go in OLR b/c schedules get sorted so much at beginning of school. For example, we can pay for AP tests–almost $100 each this year–but I always wait till April to see just how many are actually being taken. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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  • August 24, 2011 at 11:08 am
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    Merritt. I can guarantee that if 2000 middle schoolers had to buy supplies outside of school, you’d be traveling 20+ miles looking for sold out items. I’d be very thankful there were only a few items on your list. And you don’t have to register online. It really is a huge conveniece in my mind. Be grateful it’s only a hundred bucks. My son’s textbooks and fees cost $1000 in addition to his private school tuition.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 11:23 am
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    My kids are high school and beyond… but I’m not sure I ever heard that the wrap packs are cheaper (if I did, I didn’t belive it). Convenient definitely – and competitively priced certainly, but not cheaper – with wrap packs, you buy a new ruler, protractor, etc every year – certainly not a necessity! Having said all that, the main reason to buy them is that the sales generate revenue for our schools – like buying from the supply room.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 11:32 am
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    I love wrap pack.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 11:59 am
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    I like the wrap pack. It is way more convenient than going all over town hunting down school supplies and kills two birds with one stone: supplies + see which classroom the kids report to on the first day of school. Done and done. Would be nice to have the option of buying additional items for electives during online registration.

    I bet if they went to non-wrap pack there would be complaints about what a pain it is to drive all over town not knowing what to buy and/or buying stuff that was never used (I remember that, too, Avid Reader). Then more complaints about hauling it all in the heat and chaos of the first day of school.

    The online registration is great in theory but is a semi-fail in practice. Why don’t the individual teachers seem to have a class list with names, addresses, phone numbers and emails of each child in the class? Why do I have to fill all of that stuff out again on the first day of school? Waste of paper and time.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm
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    When I went to Armstrong (mid century), we brought our “wrap packs” home the first day with an itemized price list. Our parents approved what they wanted to buy and returned other items, like the protractor that we already had. We had the convenience without being forced to buy stuff that we didn’t need. They also always had an open package of paper in the supply room that they would sell single sheets from so that if a kid ran out of paper and didn’t have the money for a whole package, we could buy a couple of sheets to get by.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm
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    I like wrap pack too. Additional supplies are always requested I expect that… I was confused about field trip fee when I was certain I had already paid that fee online.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm
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    Admittedly this is a little off topic, but why is Spanish not offered (better yet, required) until 6th grade? I also heard this year’s 6th grade Spanish teacher quit over the summer and they are not backfilling the position so the kids who chose Spanish as an elective have to re-choose. Don’t they know we’re a suburb of Mexico?

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  • August 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm
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    I also was surprised that you complained about the instrument rental. You should be thanking the district for the fantastic opportunity for your children to sample band or orchestra. I’ve never heard of any other district that does this. Where else could they try out playing the trombone for a few months? If all of these costs are bothering you, pack a lunch for your child instead of spending money in the cafeteria. You’ll save a bundle.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm
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    I agree that it is quite expensive to go through on-line registration,wrap packs, and all the extra fees. I will say, though, that we did private school for 5 years and we paid tuition PLUS supply fees, activity fees, and all kinds of other “extra”s. I promise the $500 or so we pay (for two kids) is a drop in the bucket compared to private school.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm
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    Until a few years ago, the kids had to pick up their wrap packs, lug them home, then lug them back a day later. It forced even the walk-to-school kids to get a ride to school the first day, adding to the traffic jam.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm
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    Never was a fan of wrap pack. you always ended up getting mismatched colors and to be the guy who ended up with two purple spirals stunk.
    Shop on your own and get everything color coded for each class, none of that wrap pack nonsense.
    In hs I never bought any school supplies until two weeks into it, once I figured out how each teacher does things (handouts vs. notes vs. lots of in and out papers for binder, etc)

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  • August 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm
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    My wife had to pay for all the stuff onine for Bradfield. All the supplies (including pencils, eraser, notebooks, calculator, etc. that we already have) had to be purchased again. Not an option to go out on your own and buy them for WAY less money. Plus, you have to “donate” money on the spot for all the ridiculous teacher gifts. Gifts for every holiday, weeks worth of lunches…I thought the point of a gift was a nice gesture or something you wanted to do. It’s all just crammed down your throat. Not a fan.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm
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    @Gringo Bling. Wouldn’t OLR have let you finish the process without the teacher gift donations? Even without buying supplies? (And without paying for HPMS wrap packs, Merritt?)

    “Just say no.” When you are later chased down by the PTA or room moms, say you are buying your own gifts, and could you also please have a list of supplies so you can collect them. The few parents who prefer this shouldn’t be a problem.

    Now for high school, they tell you if you don’t pay for an ID, your kid can’t get a schedule and textbooks, etc. But they don’t say you can’t finish OLR and be registered without paying for an ID. Bet that’s true for other stuff.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm
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    I’m a fan. And when I think about all the work that is being taken off my hands, I am happy, even if there is still a lot expected of me. But maybe I’m just a Tigger and not an Eeyore, like I try to teach my kids. The secret to happiness is to be happy with what you have instead of complaining about what yo would rather have. By all means, if you know how to make a situation perfect feel free to take responsibility and give it a shot, but if it’s outside your control, better to let it go.

    Which causes me to ask – why not refuse to buy the wrap pack and do it yourself? I promise that they will not kick tour kids out of school, but you would have to actually live your principles instead of sniping with nothing at risk.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm
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    I have a compass from my 3rd grade wrap pack (circa 1992), unused. $5 obo.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 8:04 pm
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    Or Better yet – Walk a mile in their shoes …. The committee did a great job and have worked many many many hours to make it easier for both on OLR and Supply.
    Love to have you sign up next year.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 10:22 pm
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    @M: “why is Spanish not offered (better yet, required) until 6th grade?”

    I don’t think we have Mrs. Moore to go around teaching Spanish to 5th graders anymore:

    [Flashcard]
    “¿Hola Isabel, como estas?”

    [New Flashcard]
    “Estoy bien gracias, y tu?”

    [New Flashcard]
    “Bien, gracias.”

    (and so on)

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  • August 25, 2011 at 8:09 am
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    ld-“You should be thanking the district for the fantastic opportunity for your children to sample band or orchestra.” Really? We have provided that “opportunity” through private lessons since age 7- by our choice as a family. Band was a complete waste of time and money for my children. It would be interesting to know how much the district spend on these teacher’s salaries. Unless I am missing something, this exposure/experience certainly does not boost the interest at the high school level.

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  • August 25, 2011 at 8:43 am
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    I was in Home Depot yesterday and they said that the checkout lines over the weekend in preparation for the 1st day of school were at least 20 minutes long, so I’ll take the convenience of the wrap pack over that anyday. That being said, they do seem pretty dang pricey when you consider that they don’t include a big binder or book covers. Agree too that I’d rather be paying $500 to HPISD than paying private school tuition, but I only have one child to ante up for. I’m sure for parents with multiples, even the HPISD fees can be a strain.

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  • August 25, 2011 at 9:10 am
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    @mk. Office Depot maybe? Though with school funding cutbacks, some teachers may be asking for tools to do their own repairs.

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  • August 25, 2011 at 10:21 am
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    i like the wrap pack and would have a fit if it went away. i do think it would be a nice touch to have the stuff delivered to the classrooms. maybe some kids could get community serivce hours for that? i have friends in suburban district and they are given al ist that requires going to 3 different stores, standing in long lines, lugging 50 lbs per kids into school and spent way more than we did. then you turn in what you have purchased and the teacher will pass out supplies as needed. you dont get back the exact supplies that you bought. so you may have purchased nicer items for your kid but they may get the cheapo stuff someone else bought.plus your list includes more supplies than your kid needs so supplies will be purchased for the kids that cant afford them.

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  • August 25, 2011 at 11:18 am
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    Loved the wrap packs! Last year for high school we waited in a mile long line at office depot for needed supplies. Also, never realized until I had one kid in private school … how organized and streamlined the HP online registration is! From my kid at private school … I get email from the nurse to print out forms, email from carpool person to fill out forms, then just the general online registration, etc. Then I have to print off and turn-in!!! Not to mention private school activity fee if your kid plays a sport …. think it was $500 or more and don’t get me started on tuition! One kid almost equals my tax bill for HP! Oops … forgot I paid $500 again for uniforms this year (but love them!). Oh … my kid’s at Shelton … it’s not a luxury it’s a must! P.S. We had to rent instruments last year, too, but the company didnt come to the school …. we had to drive there to order, pay, and return it! MIS makes it much easier!

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  • August 25, 2011 at 11:32 am
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    Disclaimer – I don’t have any children, but the service the school is offering sounds pretty darn convenient. I’m definitely impressed with the current set up.

    However, it does sound like there are some minor improvements that could be made to the OLR to make things even better, such as allowing individual teachers to add their extra requirements into the database and then append those extra items and cost (including additional field trip plans) to each kid’s wrap pack and OLR payment. That way each kid’s wrap pack is customized for their specific schedule and the annoying extras go away. Seems like an easy win for next year.

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  • August 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm
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    So after reading all these comments, I’m still not clear. Is the Wrap a requirement? It does sound convenient, and when my oldest starts 1st grade in a couple years, I’m sure I’ll be happy to take advantage. But it also sounds like it could be expensive, especially buying things you already have or end up not actually needing, and if it is an option, I could see us opting out after a couple years once we are more familiar with things. Doesn’t seem right that it would be required, so I’m wondering if it is, or if it is just a convenient service the district offers.

    The band thing surprises me though. An “opportunity” is to have the CHOICE to sign up for band and sample it. When it is REQUIRED, that is no longer an opportunity. I’m guessing everyone has the opportunity to join the cross country team or the chess club when they get to middle school, but it is not required (nor are the fees associated with it.)

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  • August 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm
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    Wrap packs are a fantastic time saver. Wish they had them for High School. Don’t care if they cost a little more – saving the time is so worth it! Anything to avoid the Office Depot shopping trip!

    Can’t believe anyone is complaining about the 9 week rotation of band and orchestra! Some of us are so non-musically inclined that this would be our children’s only opportunity to be exposed to an instrument. Some kids choose band only because the LOVE Mr.White – He makes these kids want to be in band.

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  • August 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm
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    First off, I think that the original post was less critical of what the PTA is doing in providing the wrap packs, but of the fact that they claim it is less expensive when it isn’t necessarily. It would be nice if there was also a list of what is in it readily available so that parents could chose to make the purchases themselves. Some prefer the convenience and some would prefer the cost savings of using some items from home and some new items purchased with a coupon…. As for the claim of convenience, it does tarnish the convenience to not have a way to include the electives. If we have to go to office depot to make purchases for electives then adding in the other stuff just isn’t THAT much more convenient.
    As for the band and orchestra requirement. In my opinion 9 weeks of meeting every other day for 45 minutes isn’t enough to learn enough about an instrument to make it work the time, effort and $ of the rental. I would prefer that my child chose either band, orchestra or choir to try and to have enough time with the subject to actually learn something. I know that the time spent in music was a complete waste in our case. Part of that was that it just wasn’t enough to get something out of it, part of it was that there are just too many kids in the class and part was the lack of musical DNA. I really prefer the way that it was done in private school for my older child. In 5th grade, he had to take fine arts and which art was up to him. In high school, he also had a fine arts requirement and made a completely different choice and got a lot out of it. He is even less musically inclined than the child that I sent to HP, yet he can read music and has a basic understanding of keys and the mathematical structure of music. He also has a much better technical understanding of the visual arts than my child who is actually talented in art. For me, the bottom line is that my child did not learn much in 5th grade fine arts at HP, she did not enjoy it and it cost more than it had to cost.

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  • August 26, 2011 at 5:10 pm
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    I would agree that having the wrap packs, even if they don’t have everything needed, is tremendous convenience. After spending $300+ ($100 of which was the req’d TI graphing calculator for AlgII) with my 2 HS’ers and braving the crowd at Office Depot on Monday night, I’d gladly spend a little more to have someone shrink wrap it all for me.
    Alternatively, why can’t the HS teachers/departments post class supply lists during the summer? Even DISD does that. I saw plenty of folks out the week before school started at the brand new WallyMart on NW Highway with lists in hand buying stuff. I also noticed that all of the office products stores had sales running that conveniently ended the day before school started. I could have saved some $$ if I could have shopped early.
    Also, when my older kids where at the HPMS, they could go put their wrap packs in their homerooms when they picked them up. Can they not do this anymore.

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  • August 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm
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    @neal
    “me llama Juan”

    that is as far as Mrs. Moore got with us back in the 70’s.

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