ALEXANDRIA, N.Y. (WWTI) — Back to school shopping this year is pricey.

Families with children in elementary through high school will likely spend nearly $900 on back-to-school items, according to the National Retail Federation. Which is $25 more than last year’s record of $864.35.

With the demand for school supplies still skyrocketing, some school districts in the North Country have stepped up to help.

“The only thing we ask families to provide are headphones and a water bottle,” Alexandria Bay Central School District Superintendent Chris Clapper said.

Despite the rising prices, Alexandria Bay CSD is set to provide all of its nearly 500 students in grades K-12 with free school supplies.

“Through the budget process, we anticipate prices for our supplies and budgeted for that,” Clapper explained. “So we made sure that whatever happened with costs, we were still able to cover those for families.

This is a continuation of an ongoing program. Alex Bay will also provide free lunches to all students due to its high percentage of lower-income families.

Clapper said the help with school supplies will ease both financial struggles and those associated with being in a rural area.

“If you know you don’t have to go in, the week leading up to school to buy a long list of supplies and competing with other families, from other school districts, it would just be a relief to know that those are supplied,” he stated. “There’s no need to go and drive to Watertown, or drive to Syracuse to get those supplies.”

And this just isn’t for the first day, the District is stocked for the entire school year.

“We make sure that we, based on the previous year, will buy the supplies that we anticipate and then we’ll add 10 percent or so. We make sure we have enough supplies that whatever happens, we can still cover those costs,” Clapper expressed. “We’re certainly anticipating the opening of school and can’t wait for kids to come in.”

The Alexandria Bay Central School District will open its doors to students on Thursday, September 7, 2023.