PRATT — When school started at Skyline USD 438 on Aug. 26 in Pratt, students began using a wide variety of supplies necessary classrooms to function.

For the second year in a row, nearly all those supplies were provided by the district. The usual $50 to $70 most families spend per student at the start of each school year was eliminated by district funding, and families in the area, especially those with several students in the district, were appreciative.

“Between school fees and lunch fees, by the time families pay for supplies, August can have a lot of expense in it,” said Diane House, grade school principal and mother of three Skyline students.

House said some families have to start saving months ahead in order to purchase necessary school supplies each August. And there are a lot of supplies needed these days, including crayons, notebooks, markers, pencils, pens, highlighters, rulers, erasers, stick glue, liquid glue, five subject note books, note cards, composition books and the list goes on.

In an effort to reduce the financial burden for families in the district, the administration at Skyline took some general budget funds and purchased as many supplies as they could for all students with the goal of families only having to purchase a couple of supply items for the year.

The plan worked. On the average, the district was able to purchase from 10 to 12 items for each student. Most elementary students only needed to bring one or two supplies for school. High school students were a little trickier because of their class load, but families for all students from pre-K to senior had very few supplies to buy this year, House said.

“In the last year, we have eliminated 90 percent of the school supplies that parents have to purchase,” House said. "Everyone starts school will such a great attitude. It really is a stress reliever."

Not surprisingly, the program is a hit and parents are excited about the reduced cost for supplies.

The district buys as much locally as possible but they also go online to purchase the most they can with available funds. One of the teachers found a website that as been very beneficial for the effort, and buying in bulk helps them save money.

“We have a budget and spend as much as we can with that money,” House said. “We’re not collecting more school fees to pay for the supplies.”

To determine what supplies are needed, teachers create lists for each class. Supplies are purchased over the summer then the summer office staff inventories all the supplies and prepares them for each room and teacher. It takes a lot of time and effort and help to get everything ready.

“It takes a small army of us to do it,” House said.

The supplies are stored in a central closet and distributed as necessary. If a new student comes in or a student needs something they didn’t get, teachers can go to the supply closet and fill that need.

In the past, if a student showed up for school without all their supplies, teachers would purchase the supplies for the student out of their own pocket, House said.

This is the second year for the district to purchase supplies.

“It’s a year-to-year decision,” House said. “At the end of the 2020 school year, we’ll evaluate for 2021.”