SIDNEY — It’s that time of the year again when students are preparing to go back to school and Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart offers tips to get ready.
“It just seems like yesterday that school was out and we had the summer ahead of us. Well, obviously the summer has went pretty quickly,” Lenhart said during his weekly phone interview.
Creating an exact school shopping list is a good idea to help avoid impulse buying, Lenhart said. He suggests shopping at home first to collect items left over from last year so they are not bought twice.
“Also, in my family we go to brothers and sister and nieces and nephews — it’s called ‘hand-me-downs,’” the Sheriff said with a chuckle. “Whether it’s for clothes or school supplies.”
He also recommends conducting research on any “big ticket” items, such as laptops or college refrigerators, before going shopping. And he said to be sure to look for sales and compare prices.
“We always ask for student discounts that are available. Many stores will have some student or school discounts for you,” he said. “Coupons are always good. Sign up for email alerts. And redeem any cash back or rebates that might be helpful.”
If you know multiple items will be used over the course of the year, Lenhart suggests buying in bulk. He also said to find out what the return policies are, and to save receipts.
“Another tip from a safety point of view, if you can, I would urge you to mark items with a magic marker with the child’s name or initials, so you know whose are whose. The same with the bigger ticket items of laptops and small refrigerators; mark them. Because if you put 10 of them together, and they were stolen and they all looked the same, how would you know if it yours or not?” Lenhart said.
He recommended for shoppers to use caution when buying online and be sure you are on the website of the actual retailer you want to buy from, as some fraudulent websites try to trick people.
“I urge people to use a credit card, not a debit card. A credit card will protect you, where as a debit card has no protection. If you use a debit card and somebody steals that number, they can drain your bank account, and you’re just out,” Lenhart said.
Parents should be cautious when giving out their child’s identification information, he warned, and be certain that information is given to the proper school official.
For those who may have custody issues, he also recommends for parents or guardians to bring court ordered custody papers to the school so school officials are aware of who may or may not pick the child up from school.
And for new college students, Lenhart recommends ignoring the numerous credit card applications typically offered to incoming freshmen. Continuing to do business with your current bank, if a credit card is wanted, he said, will likely be best for obtaining lower interest rates.
“Don’t do that. I would imagine that about 50 percent or more of young folks who go to college get into trouble financially with (those credit card offers),” Lenhart said.
Getting in a routine of going to bed early a few days before going back to school, Lenhart said, will make the transition easier. He also recommended creating a distraction-free area for doing homework, as well as getting organized the night before. He suggests laying out clothes and any needed items for the next day, the night before, so nothing is forgotten.
“Anything I might need, whether it be a jacket, books or sunglasses. What happens a lot of times, if you don’t do that, you get rushed in the morning. And so, just take some time and lay that stuff out the night before and have a good school safe year,” he said.
Lenhart also provided the following dates when the schools listed below will be back in session:
• Botkins Local School — Aug. 14
• Hardin-Houston — Aug. 15
• Jackson Center — Aug. 14
• Anna Local Schools — Aug. 22
• Sidney City Schools — Aug. 16
• Lehman Catholic High School — Aug. 21
• Piqua City Schools — Aug. 15
• Fort Loramie — Aug. 15
• Fairlawn Local School — Aug. 21
• Russia Local School District — Aug. 21
• Christian Academy School — Aug. 22
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.