HONOLULU (KHON2) — Inflation and shipping costs are driving up the prices for almost everything, including school supplies.
Based off of the Naalehu Elementary School supply list, lawmakers found the average costs for supplies by grade are for 1st grade, $4,451.58; 2nd grade, $1,605.86; 3rd grade, $3,646.08; 4th grade, $5,186.94 and 5th grade, $4,913.63.
Parents are seeing costs mounting for goods as well.
“The last time I went to buy a pad of paper it costs $4 or $5 versus what it normally costs for a pack of five,” said Jason, a Honolulu resident.
Thanks to a new law, the burden of buying school supplies will be taken off families’ shoulders. The school supply subsidy pilot program is set for the 2022-2023 school year with about 20 public elementary schools that include Naalehu, Pahoa, Waianae, Palolo and Aiea Elementary to name a few.
“It’s really the start of just gathering more data and opportunities to see how this can help, but the goal is to make sure that our most disadvantaged have the tools they need to succeed,” said Sen. Laura Acasio, (D) Hilo.
The law appropriates $806,000 dollars to the Hawaii Department of Education for school supplies. Kamaile Academy already notified parents that they do not need to purchase any supplies. Keiki advocates call this a big win for struggling families.
“We know that these are difficult times in our community,” said David Miyashiro, executive director of HawaiiKidsCAN. “We know that families in many ways are bearing the hardest burden.”
“Families can then use that money to pay rent and put food on the table,” said Acasio.
At the end of the school supply subsidy pilot program, lawmakers will look at the results and can expand the expiration date or program as a whole. It is something teachers at other public schools said is much needed. Once supplies run out during the school year, teachers said they open pay out of pocket.
“Over the years, I’ve definitely spent a fair share of money on school supplies and eventually it just got to be too much,” said Pana Kia, a teacher at Ilima Intermediate School.
Lawmakers are hopeful they will be able to expand to other schools in the near future. They said this is just the beginning in providing for Hawaii’s keiki.
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“Here are barriers to education and we’re looking at all the ways that we can remove those barriers and — moving forward as we transform education,” said Acasio.