Sue Kiesewetter reports
A large donation of office supplies valued at nearly $97,000 will help keep costs down for the Lakota schools in coming months.The Business Solutions Division of Office Depot last week delivered 13 pallets of materials weighing more than 10,000 pounds to the district’s service center – one of the largest donations in recent memory.
School officials are dividing the more than 79,000 items – including highlighters toilet paper, pens, trash bags, paper towels, batteries, glue sticks, and binders – into bins for distribution to the schools in the 18,000-pupil district.
The merchandise is a combination of current inventory and surplus ‘fashion’ supplies that change from season to season, said Owen Torres, spokesman for Office Depot’s Florida headquarters.
Anything the district can’t use will be given to Reach Out Lakota or other charities that benefit the Lakota community, said Chris Passarge, the district’s executive director of business.
“It helps put a dent into what we’d purchase in the future,’’ Passarge said. “We can use a large portion to help offset future costs.”
The last time the district received such a large donation was about eight years when Tom and Jennifer Sharkey agreed to pay for and oversee construction of a 1,000 square-foot band room at Liberty Junior School, said Ron Spurlock, assistant superintendent, who was principal at Liberty Junior School when the Sharkey’s made the donation.
That donation, if the district would have hired contractors to build it, would have cost between $80,000 and $100,000.
“We’ve had people who have been very generous to the Lakota Schools. We’ve had some big donations,” Spurlock said.
“This donation from Office Depot is certainly one of the largest ones and we can certainly use it and are very grateful.”
It couldn’t come at a better time for the district as officials are struggling to reduce expenses after three levy defeats in the past two years.
Earlier this month the school board approved cuts totaling $10.5 million in personnel and programs for the 2012-13 school year. The cuts include the elimination of 141 school jobs – mostly teachers – along with dozens of classroom assistants, school nurses, and central office personnel.
“A lot of school districts are having financial problems like Lakota,’’ said Owen Torres, spokesman for Office Depot’s Florida headquarters. “We were very pleased to be able to do this and so were our representatives. They love doing this.”