Putnam County Schools’ annual Back to School Blast held Friday, August 13, at the Putnam Career & Technical Center in Eleanor did not go as expected.
School officials were expecting a turnout of about 350 students and were prepared to handout as many as 400 backpacks. More than 900 students showed up expecting to receive a free backpack and school supplies.
Elizabeth Hoh, Director of Elementary Education and Federal Programs, reported that school personnel gathered contact information after the backpack supply was exhausted. Hoh said that parents will be notified when the additional 500 backpacks become available.
The free backpacks and supplies are not exactly free. The School Board teams with businesses, churches, and others in the community to purchase the giveaways. Hoh stated that the cost is greatest for high school students and least for Pre-K and elementary. The cost of the backpack alone for older students is $30. The free backpack and supplies might result in a $50 per child savings for families with multiple children in upper grades.
The Blast began at 10 a.m. and was scheduled to go until 1 p.m. The last backpack was handed out around 11 a.m.
Traffic leading into Eleanor on State Route 62 was backed up from the Technical Center to the Winfield Bridge by 10:30 a.m. and did not move until second lane to was opened shortly before 10:50.