The school supply list initiative brings the cost of supplies for Canby elementary students to well below the national average.

STOCK PHOTO - Canby elementary school students, and parents, are getting a helping hand with this year's school supply list from the Canby School District. 
For Canby residents, the days of mile-long school supply lists are gone. In the upcoming academic year, the school district will provide the majority of supplies for students in grades K-6.

"The school supply list initiative provided an opportunity for each grade level (K-6) to have a universal list that would be consistent across the district," Superintendent Trip Goodall said. "While not completely eliminating the family obligation to purchase some school supplies, it significantly reduced it."

Goodall has long been considering ways to reduce costs to Canby families. Nationally, the average price tag on school supplies is $101 per child and up to $125 including backpacks and calculators. In the coming year, the final cost per student in Canby will be $18 to $20.

For some families, piling their shopping carts full of school supplies isn't an option. Last year, 43 percent of Canby students utilized the free and reduced meal program and the district also had more than 400 students who were considered homeless by federal law.

"The burden shouldn't go to our families," Goodall said. "This is a small way of trying to alleviate some of the burden."

In addition to providing supplies out of its own budget, the district also partners with The Canby Center to help fill in the gaps for families. The Canby Center has been distributing school supplies for six or seven years.

"I have four children of my own, and I just know come July or August as a family, we are like, 'how are we going to survive?'" said Linda Rasor, the sustainable families program manager at The Canby Center.

"That's so many of our families here," Rasor said. "They're having to make those tough choices. They may not be able to pay their electric bill if they have to go buy school supplies."

Those who can't afford even the new minimal list of items can visit The Canby Center during the first week in August to fill out a form with the names of the children, their grades in school and other necessary information.

As they have in the past, The Canby Center will team up with local churches to do their best to provide the remaining items. The distribution will take place at Canby Alliance Church on Aug. 25 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

"Each kid gets to pick out a backpack, which is really awesome," Rasor said. "We want to still involve that fun school shopping experience, and we have really created that."

Families who will miss filling their carts with supplies can still do so by contributing items at the local churches to be used in the Canby Center's efforts.

Next on Goodall's agenda is to look at strategies to eliminate or reduce the cost to participate in extracurricular activities or "pay to play."

"I believe strongly that the school district serves the community and serves our families," Goodall said. "I realize there are times when we ask our families to contribute."

His goal is to "eliminate some of those asks."

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