BC government to consider funding boost for school supplies

Click to play video 'B.C. government to consider funding boost for school supplies' B.C. government to consider funding boost for school supplies
B.C. government to consider funding boost for school supplies – Aug 23, 2017

The new NDP government said it will review how school supplies are funded and look at providing additional funding in the future, in response to an inquiry by Global News.

Some parents who spoke to Global News in Penticton on Wednesday said the costs associated with sending their kids back to school are on the rise, totaling hundreds of dollars.

“Over the next several months, the Ministry of Education will be working with boards of education throughout the province to address the issue of school supplies,” said a statement from the Ministry of Education’s Communications Manager Sean Leslie.

Back-to-school costs can vary across schools and grade levels but the average cost is more than $100 per student.

READ MORE: B.C. education ministry announces boost to school supply funding

Story continues below advertisement

That financial burden is too onerous for some low-income families.

The Salvation Army in Penticton has teamed up with Staples to provide 50 backpacks full of school supplies for families who can’t afford it

“There [are] lots and lots of families that don’t have the funds to be able to purchase these items that are required by the schools,” said food bank manager John Rankin. “We have a greater need than we are able to meet.”

Coupled with mounting school fees, that means free public education isn’t so free, Rankin added.

“We are happy to help at this time but I think it would be good for the government to get involved and help out these needy families.”

The previous Liberal government did make a one-time funding announcement in February of almost $30-million for classroom supplies.

READ MORE: BC Government allocates about $50 per student for school supplies

Then-Education Minister Mike Bernier said it should be used, in part, “to ease back-to-school supply costs for parents.”

The Prince Rupert School District used the one-time funding allocation to wipe out the cost of supplies for elementary school students ahead of the 2017/18 school year.

Story continues below advertisement

But the Okanagan Skaha School District said its $289,000 share will be spent on instructional supplies, athletic equipment, furniture for classes, school gardens and a sport court.

“The funding eases the burden on school [Parent Advisory Committees] who often fundraise for equipment in schools. Using the funds for personal use items is not sustainable given that it is one time funding,” said superintendent Wendy Hyer.

“I feel like the previous government could have done a lot more for schools so hopefully the new provincial government will bring this total down a little bit,” said parent Adam Schroeder.

WATCH: Back-to-school hacks for school supplies