CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. - The race to get ready for back to school has begun.
Rockdale County students return to the classroom on Monday, before the month of July finishes out. Cherokee County schools head back Wednesday, where hundreds will be attending brand new schools.
Danielle Stevenson is in the middle of her back to school shopping with her girls, but said this year presents more of a challenge.
"A lot of the costs are falling on the parents and that's causing a lot of children to not have the things they would like to do," she told Channel 2's Carl Willis.
That's also the case in Cherokee County, which is just days away for the new school year.
A recent census shows the county saw a 51 percent population increase. But as the number of students grow, the school district is preparing for its most challenging budget in years, with roughly $19 million less in the general operations fund this year.
"It's very difficult. Back to school clothes, back to school budgets, and all the different teachers require different things. It's all different than the lists that the school gives," Stevenson said.
Another parent, Kevin Johnson echoes her sentiments.
"From notebook paper to scientific calculators, to laptops to iPads. It's ridiculous," Johnson said.
Despite a shortfall of more than $22 million in state and local funding, district leaders said they've kept a full-time instructional staff and will open new schools like Clark Creek Elementary.
"We're very excited about out opening," Clark Creek Principal Jennifer Scrivner said.