A new collaboration between the school district, the Osage Nation and a local church means every Pawhuska Public Schools student will receive free school supplies for 2019-20.
Pawhuska Superintendent David Cash said this week’s back-to-school surprise announcement to the community came after he had a light bulb moment.
He was coordinating school supply distribution dates for the tribal government and Pawhuska First United Methodist Church, which previously worked separately for many years to support local students in need.
“I said what if we just brokered all of this so we could buy in bulk? We could buy enough supplies for every student,” Cash said. “It alleviates our parents from having to load up and go get some supplies here and some supplies over there. There’s so much with back to school — clothing, haircuts and all of the above.”
About half of Pawhuska’s 700 students are American Indian, so the Osage Nation will kick in a portion of its federal funding dedicated to supplement the educational needs of eligible American Indian students.
And First United Methodist Church will purchase only the items the school district cannot buy in bulk, such as grade-specific classroom needs, and hand sanitizer and Band-Aids, and contribute manpower to distribute all of the supplies to each school site in the district.
Cash estimates the district’s cost at about $4,000.
“It’s a win-win for everyone because I’m buying pencils at 4 cents a piece, instead of maybe 10 cents at the best rate they could have gotten because they weren’t buying in bulk,” Cash said. “We’re fortunate to be in good financial shape. For teachers, if you had kids whose parents don’t have the means to buy supplies — that was coming out of their pocket. This way, we’ll have the supplies at each school site in a centralized location, so when they run out, it’ll be right there so they can go get more.”
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