School supplies costs lowered for Gabriola families

School supplies costs will be a little less for Gabriola Elementary families this year, thanks to subsidies organized by the GES Parent Advisory Committee.

For the past few years, GES teachers have bulk purchased school supplies via fees collected from families for each child in order to cover costs. The cost comes out to $40 per student and includes items like pencils and paper. With all students in each classroom having the same supplies, an added benefit has been a a feeling of shared ownership and caretaking of materials, Sarah Holmes, PAC chair, said.

When introduced at the school, the flat rate cost “was met with appreciation to start as it can often be more costly than $40 for back-to-school shopping,” Holmes, said. “We noticed that while this cost works at the individual student level, when a family has more than one student attending, the cost is not able to be shared by the family sending, for example, a few pencils out of a box for everyone and replacing as needed; we found the benefit was lessened.”

This year, through a funding application, the Gabriola Lions provided $2,000 to the PAC to help subsidize the cost of the supplies for families. The support halves the cost per student, bringing it down to $20 each, Holmes said.

The Lions also provided $1,500 for the school library. “The library is usually something we support virtually every year because we believe in it and want to see us having a first-class library,” Anne Banford, Gabriola Lions’ funding coordinator, said.

Funding the school supplies program also fit well with the Lions desire to help reduce costs for families, Banford said.

“Everything is constantly going up and as Lions we’re just pleased to provide that support.”

If any families need additional support covering the $20 supplies fee, they can contact the office at GES and additional funding from other programs can be made available, Holmes said.

Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation runs its annual Stock the Lockers fundraising campaign the month of August. In 2023, 1,200 students across the district received support for school supplies through the campaign.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder