Battle Ground Public Schools will provide basic school supplies for all K-4 students next year thanks to a rule change that will provide the district with revenue from timber sales that occur within the district's boundaries. K-4 families will still need to provide backpacks and perhaps reusable water bottles and earbuds for 2018-19, but will not need to purchase other necessities like paper, pencils, erasers, scissors and crayons.
The school supplies will be paid for with funds from a recent rule change adopted by the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). In early June, OSPI announced the change to how state forest revenues are treated for school districts with timber lands located within their district boundaries. In the past, state forest revenues were deducted from a district’s state apportionment funds, in effect reducing basic education payments received from the state. Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, districts will no longer have forest revenues deducted from their basic education funds.
“This has been a priority for me and WSSDA, and I am pleased we were able to make this change immediately,” wrote State Superintendent Chris Reykdal in an email. “Rural communities should benefit from timber harvests without penalty, just as urban districts get permanent benefit to their tax base when commercial property values appreciate.“
Because timber harvests are highly variable from year to year and revenue is not guaranteed, Reykdal has cautioned districts to use the funds for equipment replacements or other one-time costs rather than for permanent, ongoing costs. Over the past 10 years, timber revenues for BGPS have varied from as little as $80,000 in a year to a high of $1.2 million.
"Using these funds allows us to give something back to our community and provide equity for what supplies students are using in class," said Superintendent Mark Ross.
Next year's school supply lists for middle school grades 5-8 and alternative schools have been posted on the district website. High schoolers receive school supply information from teachers at the beginning of the year, but should come to school prepared with basic items such as a backpack, notebook, paper and writing instruments.
The Battle Ground Education Foundation and BGPS Family and Community Resource Center will still offer backpacks and basic school supplies to middle and high school students in need, as well as backpacks and at-home supplies to primary students who need them. Watch for more information to come from the district about how to sign up for the school supplies program.