Foundation Welcomes Tulsa Students Back With Free School Supplies

Monday, August 20th 2012, 7:00 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa Public Schools headed back to class Monday, and this opening day had almost no problems reported, compared to last year, after Project Schoolhouse.

Monday, students at two schools moved to new buildings and many students ended up with free school supplies.

The bulk of the children at Remington Elementary qualify for just about every anti-poverty program.

8/20/2012 Related Story: 40,000 Students Begin Classes At Tulsa Public Schools

Its goes well beyond free breakfast and lunch for anyone who wants it to free school supplies throughout the year, supplied by the Tulsa Community Foundation.

"When parents hear about that they are so relieved," said Remington Principal Cassandra Funderburk. "They have been shocked and amazed when they realize they don't have to bring supplies. They worry they don't have the funds, and they ask if they can get an extension on school supplies."

The staff of the foundation helped distribute supplies at Remington on the first day.

It's for more than the 328 students here—the foundation donated supplies for 27,000 children in Tulsa and Union schools.

Lakin: "It's everything from pencils to crayons and markers and glue sticks, it's everything that kids could use during his or her school year—that's what we try to provide," said Phil Lakin, of the Tulsa Community Foundation.

Lakin said the foundation can buy an $8-box of supplies that would cost parents $40, even at a discount store.

The supplies they bought this year cost $285,000.

Superintendent Keith Ballard said, this year, TPS has seen an unprecedented amount of charity for the school system, and with that comes great responsibility.

"The challenge this year is to deliver for the students, to really be focused on student achievement," Ballard said. "And to engage parents so they get their children here. It's no secret that a lot our kids come from backgrounds of poverty, and the only way to break that cycle is for parents to get their kids to school and for us to absolutely deliver."

At Remington, 100 students take home backpacks of food on the weekend so they'll have something to eat.

The district's biggest charitable donation is a onetime gift to pay teachers: $1.8 that eliminated the need for the layoffs that were planned at the end of last year.