Pencils are one hot-ticket item for teachers stocking up their classrooms during the upcoming tax-free weekend.

“You can never have enough pencils, I’ve discovered as a teacher,” said Cibola High School social studies teacher Brenna Valencia.

Tax-free weekend is helpful for teachers, said Emily Bois, a Cibola history teacher, but it’s even more helpful as a parent. Bois will be shopping for her preschooler, first grader and third grader. She’ll also be buying pencils for her students.

“It’s weird, the kids always have the newest technology, but they never have something to write with, without fail, so it’s really helpful because I’ll go buy a couple of packs of pencils and pens and they usually last throughout the year,” Bois said. “But it never ceases to amaze me, how do you not have a pencil?”

The annual tax holiday is scheduled, as always, for the first weekend in August, beginning midnight on Friday, Aug. 4 and ending at midnight on Sunday, Aug. 6.

The back to school tax-free weekend is an opportunity to stock up on school supplies, including electronics, clothing and more traditional supplies like notebooks and pens, without having to pay taxes. Retailers can opt-in to the program, and often offer additional sales to help draw in customers.

This year, tax-free weekend will come after the start of school for many students around the state, instead of before. While tax-free weekend has not moved, many school districts — including Albuquerque Public Schools — have extended their school years, starting in July or early August. Earlier this year, the state Legislature increased the minimum number of instructional hours required for the coming school year and added funding incentives to encourage school districts to increase the length of school years.

The tax-free holiday was enacted in 2005, and legislators would need to change the state statute to change when the holiday falls, said Taxation and Revenue Department spokesperson Charlie Moore.

This school year might illustrate whether it’s more useful for the weekend to fall before or after classes begin.

The change may benefit high school students, who don’t necessarily buy supplies for specific courses like art or robotics until after attending class and meeting their teachers, but it may be more difficult for parents of elementary students, who typically get lists of supplies before school starts.

“Elementary school, they want you to drop the supplies off when you meet the teacher,” Bois said.

Having the tax-free weekend before school started was great for getting general supplies like new school clothes, said high school English and journalism teacher Lesley Valencia, who has been teaching for 25 years and happens to be Brenna Valencia’s mother.

“If you’re an art student, band or robotics, things that get more specific, I think it might be more helpful to parents and students if it happened a week after school started or maybe in early September,” Lesley Valencia said.

Brenna Valencia loves school supplies and tends to buy $100 or $200 worth several times during the school year, so she tries to take advantage of the tax holiday.

“I honestly think that they would be better served if they would spread it over two weekends, because it’s just so busy that I think some people are discouraged from getting stuff,” Brenna Valencia said.

Regardless of when the holiday falls, the savings can be a real help to students, parents and teachers.

“I just want to thank our state leaders for continuing this tradition, because I think it’s probably really helpful and necessary for so many of our families,” said Lesley Valencia.

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