The Farmington Municipal School District provided free school supplies this year to every student in the district.
The initiative was inspired by the Gallup McKinley County School District, which has provided free school supplies to students for years and worked closely with Farmington administrators to ensure the first year of the Farmington initiative went smoothly.
Originally, the district intended to provide supplies to the eight Title 1 elementary schools in the district. Schools where more than 40% of students come from low-income families are qualified as Title 1 schools and receive federal funding to raise achievement standards.
However, after COVID-19 hit and schools were forced to close in March, the district conducted two different surveys among families in the district and learned of the new hardships families were facing.
“Our community has been experiencing economic hardships for a couple of years now with the downturn of oil and gas that a lot of our families rely on. When other jobs were lost because of COVID-19, that double whammy for families was a really big issue across our district,” said Renee Lucero, the district’s spokeswoman.
In the surveys, families said it would be helpful to expand the initiative to all students within the district.
Nicole Lambson, executive director of curriculum, instruction and federal programs for the district, said programs were able to combine funding to expand the initiative to all K-12 students. The district also relied on support from the CARES Act and the Student Success Act.
“It worked out that every department was able to braid funds to support this initiative and to help all of our families have school supplies this year,” Lambson said.
In the spring, the district put out a request for purchase and had a number of companies respond with bids.
“One of the biggest factors for us was that they could ship directly to our schools,” Lambson said. “Not only would they be shipped directly to our schools but the school supplies would be packaged individually.”
The company the district chose was able to individually package supplies and ship the exact amount to each school. Schools then did a drive-thru distribution during a number of days in late August, organized by last names and grade levels. During the drive-thru days, schools were able to give out not only the purchased school supplies but also textbooks and laptops students would need for at-home learning.
The supplies are enough to get each student through the school year. The packages are different based on grade levels but included items such as pencils, spiral notebooks, glue sticks, flash drives and sticky notes. Lambson said families have been thankful and surprised at how much came in the packages.
Return to schoolThe Farmington Municipal School District started the school year with an online, at-home learning model. However, the district recently received approval from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to open elementary schools Oct. 13.
The district has been instructed that no more than 50% of enrolled students should be in-person at one time. The district is still working to understand how many of their elementary schools will operate in a hybrid model and how many will be able to be in-person four days a week.
As for when middle and high schools could be reopened, the district is waiting on communication from the governor’s office.