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Back To School Week Begins

AP PhotoFor most schools in Erie and Niagara County..... the first day of classes was Wednesday. Do you have any pictures to share? Send yours to


OPENING THURSDAY: Alfred- Almond | Amherst | Bemus Point | Buffalo |  Depew | Eden | Ellicottville | Genesee Valley | Lackawanna | Niagara Falls | Orchard Park | Pioneer | Springville/Griffith Institute | Warsaw | West Valley | Whitesville | 
schoolzonesALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - With children heading back to school this week, state police are urging New Yorkers to support the AAA's annual "School's Open-Drive Carefully" campaign.

The campaign alerts motorists to the risks to school-age children from motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of death for children from 5 to 14 years old.

Troop B Commander Maj. Richard Smith said drivers need to be extra cautious as vacation-minded children are apt to be less careful. Drivers should be particularly alert for children darting out between parked cars on busy streets.
Prices on back-to-school items from socks to notebooks are rising 10 percent on average, but there are lots of great deals — and new ways to find them.

Stores and manufacturers are redesigning their websites, planning new promotions and offering “savings” cards and other gimmicks to encourage consumers to spend more than last year, when some industry forecasters are saying shoppers will hold the line or spend only a little more.

Office supply seller Staples Inc., for example, has created a website with special back-to-school deals and shopping tips, and it is selling a $10 “savings pass” until Aug. 13 that gives shoppers 15 percent off school supplies until Sept. 17. Sears Holdings Corp, which operates Kmart, Sears and other businesses, has launched a new, more user-friendly online layaway shop. And Office Depot Inc. and other chains are luring shoppers with penny sales that include items like notebooks and glue.

Here are 4 tips to embrace when shopping for children’s clothing and school supplies:


Before you go anywhere, make a list of what you need and check your kids’ closets to figure out what they can still wear and use and what actually does needs to be replaced, says Jody Rohlena, senior editor at Consumer Reports’ ShopSmart.

As for school supplies, many households already have the paper and glue sticks that kids need to start the school year. So check what’s lying around on shelves and in drawers before buying piles more.



As with any spending, know your budget for back-to-school purchases. Factor in everything from computers to pencils. Then stick to it — remembering especially that there’s no requirement to buy every item on the list at once or at one store. And, while some things may need to be top quality, not everything has to be.

Financial planning websites like can help. More effective for some may be a layaway program, which can be less expensive than using a credit card, even including fees. At Kmart, shoppers pay $15 or 10 percent of a purchase total and make payments every two weeks, either online or at a register in a store, and college students can have the products delivered to a store close to campus. For purchases as big as a TV or as small as a backpack or calculator, lets customers break the price into monthly payments for a fee of roughly 2 percent for three to 13 payments. 


A child may make a good case for an Apple iPad, which costs $500 or more, even when last year’s computer will do the trick. 

  C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, urges parents to collaborate with their children on a realistic list of what they need. If there’s money left in the back-to-school budget, then they can take a look at the extras. 



Many websites now sponsor trades of used kids’ things. ThredUP, where shoppers swap children’s clothing and toys, recently added books. The way it works is anyone giving things away bundles them by age and gender and lists them on the website.

To request one of the listed boxes, you pay $5 to ThredUP plus $10.95 for shipping, and ThredUP e-mails the donor a prepaid shipping label. Members rate each other based on the quality of the stuff they receive. Also check out and

Beemer says he’s found shoppers are cutting their overall back-to-school spending as much as 60 percent by swapping clothing and other items.

 Young people aren't the only ones who get back-to-school blues. Pooches used to months of constant playtime can get upset when their best buddies disappear with the dog days of summer.

Many dogs whine and wait eagerly at the front door but eventually adjust to the absence of their young owners when they are in class. But millions of dogs can feel abandoned, sad and unable to cope — and they look for ways to lash out.

Many of the nation's 80 million dogs have separation anxiety, Dr. Nick Dodman, of Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, said citing studies.

Dogs with separation anxiety will bark, howl or whine; destroy something, leaving behind scratched doors, damaged blinds or torn curtains; or have accidents, Dodman said.

Dianne Larson of Santa Clarita, California, has seen it firsthand. School started two weeks ago, and year-old Ruby, a black Lab, still searches for Larson's son Tanner, 14, when he's gone.

"She stays in his room. If his door is closed, she will whine to get in," Dianne Larson said. If the dog isn't in Tanner's room, she's at the front window watching for him.

Side effects for anxious dogs don't stop at whimpering. Some dogs refuse to eat when their owners are gone, experts say.

"There will be an exuberant greeting when you do come home, one that can last several minutes and be completely crazy, then the dog will run to the food bowl," Dodman said.

Nearly half the anxious dogs have noise phobias, so if a storm hits while they are in an empty house, they can panic. A really insecure dog might become clingy and follow their owners around.

Besides recommended independence training, there are some things owners can do to ease their dogs' blues. Dodman suggests:

— Make your departure a happy time with toys and treats.

— Create a place in the house where the dog feels safe.

— Start the new routine before school begins.

— Don't indulge behavior with baby talk or sympathy.

— See a vet if it doesn't improve.

To cope with separation, first-grader Harry Williams of Kanab, Utah, takes the family dogs, Flora and Gandalf, to the bus stop each morning to get a bit more time with them.

"He is sad to leave them and hugs them like 10 times before he gets on the bus. Usually Flora whines when the bus pulls away," mom Jill Williams said. But the dogs mostly sleep while the youngster is at school.

"Honestly, they don't really seem fazed by it other than when Harry gets on and off the school bus," Williams said.

For those whose dogs have more serious problems, other more expensive options include pet sitters, dog walkers and doggy day camp.

For the young Grimmett sisters in Edmond, Oklahoma, their dogs, an English setter and a Yorkshire terrier, got plenty of attention and outdoor playtime over the summer, but the dogs don't throw a fit when 10-year-old Willow and 5-year-old Coral go to school, which started this month.

The dogs welcome the girls home with unconditional love and affection — and no criticism, said mom, Dr. Danel Grimmett of the Sunset Veterinarian Clinic.

"Yes, they miss their girls, but they seem to understand," she said. "And all the time away during the day disappears as soon as the girls return

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