School Supply Lists Revised to Reduce Cost for Families, Maintain Academic Opportunities

For the past few years, BH-BL administration has been working closely with teachers and K-12 Academic Supervisors revisiting and refining the annual school supply lists. The focus has been to shift much of the costs that have been traditionally passed to parents over to the general school budget fund. The district has essentially eliminated all classroom and lab fees (except nominal student fees) at the high school and also now purchases all necessary technology, including graphing calculators, at both the middle and high schools.

Most recently, the district began the process of transitioning to a model where many of the common school supplies are provided by the district to all BH-BL students. This approach ensures that the district is providing a free and appropriate public education to all students, as required by law.  The model was implemented at the elementary schools for the upcoming school year (2023-24).

“This is a change from the traditional school supply list that BH-BL, and most districts, have had in place for many years,” explains Superintendent Patrick McGrath. “Over the years, these lists have tended to grow bigger and more complex. We are focused on reducing costs for parents but also supporting teacher requests through a model where a wide variety of supplies are acquired and distributed by the district.”

BH-BL worked directly with elementary teachers to centralize and systemize classroom needs and requests so that the district could purchase and distribute most of the items elementary students would use and need during the upcoming school year. When districts purchase school supplies, the required items need to be somewhat more standardized than what will result under the parent-purchase model. “It’s actually a complex process that requires finding the right balance between custom and traditional needs,” adds McGrath. “While we want to absorb the majority of the costs we absolutely still want our teachers to have access to classroom or lesson-specific materials and supplies that are needed to help make the learning experience exceptional and the best possible for our students.”

The model implemented for the upcoming school year for elementary school supply lists is also being rolled out at the middle school this year. Items above and beyond the basic supplies will be available in all classrooms for student use, such as sketchbooks (for art classes), colored pencils, markers, index cards, sticky Post-it notes, composition notebooks, rulers, erasers, etc.

Additionally, while binders are considered a basic supply, the middle school has already purchased binders that are available (free of charge) by contacting the main office. Middle school parents will receive an email from the school with revised school supply lists to guide them. High School school supply lists tend to be much more basic and decentralized and fall within reasonable expectations for parents.

There are still a few classroom/subject-specific and personal items that students will need to supply. However, if parents need assistance purchasing these supplies they should contact their child’s school principal to discuss options. BH-BL administrators and teachers will continue to work together defining and redefining the “School Supply List” model knowing that it will always be fluid as educational needs change.