Brockport Central School District to give out free school supplies

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BROCKPORT, N.Y. — Parents in the Brockport Central School District may save a few dollars during back-to-school shopping this fall. The district has done away with class-specific school supplies lists, and will instead be buying all school supplies for every school year moving forward.

Superintendent Sean Bruno said that the district didn’t cut corners with cheap items, either.

“Believe it or not, there’s all different levels of crayons and pencils and colors and markers, and we want to make sure we have quality items for our students,” he said.

In a district where 45% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, Bruno said that giving out supplies helps level the playing field, while helping every student succeed.

“We want to make sure it’s equitable for all students, we want to make sure all students have the supplies that they need, we want to take the burden off families, and we also want to take the burden off teachers,” he said.

The district was able to finance the decision mostly through moving money around in the current budget. They targeted “inefficiencies,” like extra computer programs to which the school subscribes.

Staff looked at what each class used to teach a given subject – like seventh grade reading skills, or a learn-to-type software. They tested out each program currently being used by a teacher, and picked the best one. All classes teaching the subject then switched over to the one program, and the rest were cut.

As a bulk buyer, the district was also able to lower the cost of the supplies.

“Because we have different buying power, we realized that we can purchase these supplies at about a third of the cost for parents,” he said.

An example of supplies an elementary school student will get in Brockport this fall. (Hailie Higgins/News10NBC

Staples also helped out, donating 780 kits full of Crayola markers, crayons, and colored pencils to the district.

The lists from each teacher are still being finalized, so Bruno wasn’t able to give an exact estimate of the bill. He added that some classes needs’ are wildly different than another’s — think of a tenth grade biology class versus a kindergarten class.

He did share the list for fifth graders at Fred Hill Elementary for the 2022-2023 school year. Buying everything as required would run a thrifty parent about $70. The district would be able to get the same supplies for roughly $25.

No matter the cost, Bruno said the goal is to keep everyone focused on what matters most: learning.

“We want to support our teachers, and the learning initiatives that they have, and support our students,” he said.

Brockport is planning to continue buying students’ supplies indefinitely. Elsewhere in Monroe County, the Gates Chili School District is also giving away free school supplies. A district representative said their lists are still being finalized, and they’re not yet sure what will be given out.