Parents struggling to pay hundreds of dollars in back-to-school costs are having to force their children to drop subjects to save money.
Parents have spoken to the Bay of Plenty Times about how the high cost of devices and the school uniforms needed for the new year put them under financial pressure.
One single mother said her Year 12 daughter was forced to drop a subject as it required a laptop.
The mother had just paid almost $200 for stationery and a new piece of uniform.
"It's a real struggle trying to get it all together."
Local mother Monique Wagener said she has spent upwards of $400 on school uniform items, more than $200 on school fees and $600-plus on bus fees.
"I refuse to buy a tablet or a Chromebook after having to fork out that much already."
Many parents expressed the difficulty of getting the money together so soon after the Christmas season.
Diane Bruin, manager at Tauranga Budget Advisory Service, said back-to-school costs could put parents under a large amount of financial pressure.
Uniform, stationery, school fees, and additional transport costs could cost upwards of $500 per child, depending on the school.
Although there were great options for second-hand uniforms and reduced prices on stationery items that struggling families could utilise, she said.
"Most schools have a prepayment plan to pay weekly towards these costs."
School uniforms were the biggest cost, she said.
Bruin advised parents to put away money each week year-round to cover this cost.
Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association president Matthew Skilton said the need for devices had become a part of every day learning for every student.
The world had become a global place and it was important for the students to stay connected, he said.
"The new concept of Bring Your Own Device [BYOD] connects learning between school and home."
Skilton said it was just "not viable" for schools to provide devices for everyone, but schools did assist where they could.
To attempt to lower the cost, many schools have introduced "dual platform" learning, where they can download the software needed on Chromebooks or PC.
Katrina Casey, the deputy secretary sector enablement and support at the Ministry of Education, said as devices were used in the delivery of the curriculum, it was unlawful for schools to require parents to pay for them.
However, many schools worked with local trusts on affordable lease-to-buy arrangements, she said.
Group manager at the Ministry of Education Cathryn Ashley-Jones said the Government paid most of the education costs for students attending state schools.
The Government per-student funding for students at state and state-integrated schools in 2017 averaged $7688.50.
For every $2.10 donated to schools, taxpayers contributed about $100 via government funding.
Many schools received decile funding to help them to overcome the barriers to learning faced by students from poorer communities, which increased from $135 million in 2006 to $168 million in 2017.
Soap, tissues requested from parents
Hand soap and tissues are among stationery items parents are being asked to buy on the eve of the new school year.
A teacher from a Bay school sent out a stationery list on a school-based Facebook group saying "a foaming hand soap refill for the bathrooms would be greatly appreciated", underlining that hand sanitiser was provided but the children preferred the soap.
The list also requested a box of tissues were to be brought in by every child for the classroom.
A parent from the school said she did not understand why the school did not just purchase the soap instead of the hand sanitiser.
"Of course, I will provide my share, but it's just a strange request."
The school principal said the mainstream and multimedia stationery lists did not request soap or tissues, as it is something the school does provide.
Katrina Casey, from the Ministry of Education, said the ministry provided schools with operational funding for consumables such as soap, toilet paper and paper towels for the toilet facilities.
It was up to the school board as to how the funds were used.
However, boards were free to seek donations or materials for general or specific purposes.
"It is important for parents to remember that any request for donations, or in this case to include these particular items as part of the stationary list, is voluntary."
President of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association Matthew Skelton said it was not uncommon for schools to request tissues for the classroom.