Oklahoma TSET grant helps create better school environments
A new dishwasher replaces an outdated one at Leach Public School, funded by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, in which some schools received a Healthy Schools Incentive grant. Leach received $15,000 help improve areas around the campus for the health and wellness of students. COURTESY
Water bottle-filling stations, also known as hydration stations, will replace water fountains such as this one at Leach Public School with the help of an Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust grant. COURTESY
OKLAHOMA CITY – In November, the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust board of directors chose 19 Oklahoma school districts and two school sites to receive Healthy Schools Incentive grants to help fund health-promoting projects around their respective campuses.
Four of the selected schools are within the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction, and each has begun using the grant money on different projects.
Leach Public School in Delaware County received $15,000 for repairs and replacements in the cafeteria, playground, water fountains and school track. The school has more than 50% Native American enrollment.
Superintendent Jimmy Ray said the school cafeteria’s dishwasher needed to be replaced.
“Otherwise, we would have had to use disposable trays, which was a cost and a waste in our environment,” Ray said.
He said the money would also put padding on the playground and add water bottle-filling stations, also known as hydration stations, around the school to replace water fountains.
“The students can bring in their thermoses and fill them up, which will be much more convenient for them and less mess than trying to hold them over the top of a water fountain,” Ray said.
The funds will also help to fix the walking track because the entire community uses it, not just students.
“We’re fulfilling quite a bit of use as far as helping to get things for the students that give them a much more healthier environment and healthier ways of looking at what they can do in their life,” Ray said.
Warner Public Schools in Muskogee County received $17,000 to repair sidewalks at the elementary campus and add hydration stations.
“About $12,000 will be spent on repairing and replacing sidewalks around and throughout our elementary school campus. We have sidewalks that are probably 40 to 50 years old,” Warner Superintendent David Vinson said.
He said officials want to create safer walkways for the students and staff. The rest of the funding will go toward implementing hydration stations at the elementary, middle school and high school campuses.
“Those will be the water bottle-fill stations that will replace our drinking fountains. Kids will be able to fill their own bottles of water,” he said.
The hydration stations will help will overall cleanliness and create a healthier environment, Vinson added.
Warner Public Schools has a 41% Native American student population with the majority being Cherokee.
“We’re excited about the grant because it’s going to provide a lot of things for our students that are needed,” Vinson said. “At the same time, every grant that we get coming in frees up our general fund money to meet other needs of the students in the district. It’s just very helpful.”
Afton Public School in Ottawa County on average has 200-215 Native students enrolled. The school also received $17,000 to fix the school track, which is used by students and community members, school officials said.
Caney Valley Schools, in Washington County, received $15,000.