The distribution of school supplies for children attending Pawhuska Public Schools is about to be radically simplified. The idea is your child just shows up at school and receives supplies.
No more remembering the dates of supply distributions held at different locations in the community; no more toting plastic bags full of items needed for school; no more making sure the kids remember to take their supplies with them on the first day of class.
The leadership of Pawhuska Public Schools is working with the Osage Nation and organizers of an annual church-based school supply distribution project to streamline the process. David Cash, superintendent of Pawhuska Public Schools, said he has done things this way elsewhere and he wanted to implement his approach here. Cash is entering his second year as Pawhuska’s superintendent.
“Just show up on the first day of school and don’t worry about school supplies,” Cash said, describing the elimination of anxiety he hopes to achieve.
Until now, the Osage Nation has provided school supplies to children and youth who qualified through its Johnson-O’Malley Act program. The Johnson-O’Malley Act, which the U.S. Congress passed in 1934, authorizes education subsidies to benefit Native American populations.
Meanwhile, the First United Methodist Church of Pawhuska has raised donations from local businesses, civic groups and other churches to buy school supplies for distribution to all children and families in the community, regardless of the financial strength of the families receiving help.
Cash said one of the keys to his plan is to buy in bulk and get more for each dollar. He anticipates the school district may be able to get educational supplies for as little as 20 percent of what the price might otherwise be.
Mary Wildcat, the Osage Nation’s education director, said the new approach will mean the ON will not have to distrubute school supplies this year. Wildcat said the ON embraced the idea of using its Johnson-O’Malley dollars to partner with the schools and have supplies waiting on students.
“That is the goal for Pawhuska Public Schools and we felt that was a wonderful idea,” Wildcat said.
Linda Boone, one of the organizers of the school supply distribution held annually at First United Methodist, said the church is continuing to accept donations from the community and will buy some items that are on the children’s school lists, as well as classroom items for teachers such as hand sanitizer, sanitary wipes and bandages.
Boone voiced concern that some news reports about the change in the way school supplies are being distributed in Pawhuska emphasized the role of the Methodist Church but did not mention the crucial support provided by other churches and community groups.
“We could never do this without the help of the whole town,” Boone said. The distribution held at the Methodist Church’s fellowship building had been going on for 13 years.