Furnishing a public school is quite an expensive task. Desks, tables, chairs, and other furniture items are not typically pulled out of thin air and dropped inside of a classroom. When it comes to a school budget–especially a public school budget–funds are tight. There are many line items such as teacher salaries, technology, materials, and general maintenance and upkeep of the facility that takes priority above school furniture. This is why some classrooms look like a patchwork quilt of desks and storage that gets passed down from teacher to teacher for many years until it is finally tossed out. However, every year the local business sector comes to the aid of our schools through grants and sponsorships that total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and truly their contributions help out enormously.
Someone who has directly benefited from the recent gracious donations of United Community Bank, Christy Mowery explains, “My money is designated for supplies that students and teachers can use like books, glue, cameras, ipads, etc.” Mowery continues, “I can’t buy furniture with the local and federal money that I get because it is not a consumable supply for students, so the money to buy furniture has to come through fundraising.”
As classroom dynamics begin to change, the traditional classroom setting (desks lined up like soldiers, scratched wooden desks, etc.) become less and less common. Therefore when the United Community Bank was remodeling their facilities after the First National Bank buy out, they contacted Mike Sims, supervisor of maintenance and facilities for the school system, to see if the schools could use any office furniture.
“They’ve given us the whole office,” Sims said. “Office tables, chairs, desks, filing cabinets–anything you could imagine was donated to Lenoir City and Loudon County schools.” Sims noted that office furniture needed for a school isn’t cheap–an office desk for a teacher running for about $1500 brand new. These practically new desks were loaded onto a trailer and given to the teachers to pick what they wanted.
Hypothetically speaking, $1500 per desk for just 8 teachers is $12,000 dollars. That’s a lot of money when costs for everything else are applied. “I think it’s awesome…When [the school system] gets these kinds of donations like that– you can use your budget in other ways,” said Sims.
These gracious donations have greatly benefitted the school systems in this sense that great sacrifices do not have to be made in order for LCHS to have what it needs to fill its classrooms and provide it with a much needed refresh on its existing furniture.
When Randy Burleson, owner of Aubrey’s, Barley’s, Sunspot, and other local restaurants, heard that the LCHS Media Center was creating a cafe area for students to snack and charge their devices, he was quick to offer stools and tables to the cause. He has a storage area containing restaurant furniture not currently in use. Ms. Mowery says, “Not only is he donating 30 stools and six high top tables, but he even offered to deliver. Plus he wants to throw in a commercial microwave for student use! This means that my fundraising efforts can go to some other worthy project like purchasing a new 3D printer or a GlowForge.”
(Future Media Center Cafe – “The Hub”)
Director of Lenoir City Schools, Jeanne Barker adds, “Our motto in Lenoir City Schools is, “Building the future of Lenoir City… one student at at time.” We greatly appreciate United Community Bank as a partner that supports our vision. Thank you, United Community Bank and many other contributors.”
The kindness of local businesses aiding our school is greatly appreciated. On behalf of students and teachers alike we pause for a moment and reflect on the power of community and giving. Thanks to our many community sponsors!
(Top: Vice Principal, Mr. Weeks’ new desk/ Bottom: Ms. Mowery’s library table)