Maryland school district studies how 2-ply toilet paper will affect its bottom line

A middle school student body president said the one-ply toilet paper Montgomery County Public Schools currently buys is “rough as sandpaper.” (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Matze Fotograf_Bln)

There’s a lot to Montgomery County Public Schools’ proposed operating budget of $2.8 billion for fiscal year 2021. But one topic that got a lot of attention at Monday night’s public hearing on the budget was the quality of school toilet paper.

“It feels rough as sandpaper and very thin, which has led to many uncomfortable circumstances for students,” said Sekayi Fraser, student body president at Cabin John Middle School. “On top of that, the toilet paper dispensers are extremely inefficient and only allow for two to three squares to be broken off at a time.”

Fraser said it’s a common complaint shared by students. He said advocating on the issue actually helped him get elected and that he had over 100 signatures on a petition — just from the eighth graders at his school — advocating for better paper.

So, how much can it really cost to make the TP a little more comfy? Apparently, it’ll end up costing thousands of dollars, according to the school district.

The district currently spends about $200,000 each year on toilet paper, said Montgomery County Public Schools’ Chief Financial Officer Nicola Diamond. That’s about 7,000 cases of one-ply toilet paper at $29.30 a case.

“When you go up to two-ply, the cost goes up by $4.45 per case, which has the overall cost increase to $236,250,” Diamond said at the board meeting. That’s over $31,000 more than the school district’s current spending on toilet paper.

In addition, the schools’ Chief Operating Officer Andrew Zuckerman said the school system will have to do some research into what impact the extra ply may have on the plumbing and infrastructure at the district’s schools.

The county will have another public hearing on the proposed budget 6 p.m. Wednesday at Carver Educational Services Center Auditorium, 850 Hungerford Drive, in Rockville, Maryland.

The school board is expected to finalize the 2021 budget Feb. 10, then send it to the Montgomery County Council.

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