No Supply Buying at Lakeside

Monday night we told you about the parent of a kindergartner who found the back-to-school supply list for her daughter a bit excessive... including a request for 16 glue sticks.

So we are about to visit a district where back-to-school supply lists....don't exist.

Lakeside superintendent Shawn Cook says his father once went an entire school year without an algebra book because his family couldn't afford it.

So Cook promised his dad he would make sure all the students in his district would have all the supplies they needed.

Like many Arkansas school districts, the first day of school for Lakeside students in Hot Springs is less than two weeks away.

But unlike in many Arkansas school districts, Lakeside parents are not scrambling to buy school supplies for their kids.

Over the weekend Lakeside placed an order for over $100,000.00 with Office Depot that will cover everybody. Cook says buying in bulk and on Arkansas' "tax-free" weekend saved over $10,000.00.

The "buy supplies" movement started five years ago.

Superintendent Shawn Cook says the football coach doesn't ask his players to buy shoulder pads, helmets and footballs.

He thinks it sends the wrong message when teachers have to ask students to buy crayons, pencils and, yes...glue sticks.

"I would go to the different stores and I looked at the school supply lists and I thought, man...this is a burden on our parents," says Cook. "You know it just seemed like every school...we just started asking for more and more. The list grew."

This year the district bought three used school busses (30,000 to 50,000 miles each) rather than three new ones and saved about $150,000...more than enough to pay for all the supplies.

"We just believe that you are supposed to have a free and appropriate education," says Cook. "We're going to try and make our patrons tax dollars stretch as far as they can. I think you can be conservative in different areas and pay...not easily pay for this but pay for this. It has to become a priority for your school."

Lakeside also pays for all academic field trips.

And in case you are wondering, the $100,000 school supply purchase included an order for 129 dozen glue sticks.

And, while affluent by comparison to some Arkansas school districts, Cook says about 50% of his primary school students are receiving free or reduced cost lunches.

Air date: August 6th, 2013