Flyers asking for toilet paper donations for Kent schoolchildren get a lot of attention

KENT, Wash. -- The Kent Education Association says some schools in Kent have been out of basic supplies. So basic that a recent flyer created by the teacher's union got a lot of attention.

The  flyers ask for donations of paper supplies, including toilet paper.

“Some of our schools did not have the ability to purchase enough toilet paper, paper tissue, Post-Its and basic things like that,” Kent Education Association President Christie Padilla said.

In a blog post, a teacher at one Kent school said sometimes they do not have enough paper to photocopy big assignments.

“I’ve personally seen emails where teachers are given directions you can only use six inches of paper towels at a time,” Padilla said.

Although school districts are underfunded by the state, most find a way to balance what they have. This year, the Kent School District is far from that trying to dig themselves out of a $6.9 million budget shortfall.

“This is something that's way outside of the norm, I am only aware of one other district in the last 10 years (that) ended up not in the positive fund balance,” Padilla said.

The district says the significant enrollment growth predicted for the past several years did not happen. That means they don’t get the state funds they thought they would get.

In a letter posted on the district’s website, Superintendent Dr. Calvin Watts said, “Never again will we allow ourselves to drift further away from financial certainties."

The district is in a hiring freeze and they will have to cope with fewer seasonal workers and interns.

“It’s a huge, major concern,” Padilla said.

But the district says when it comes to basic school supplies, like toilet paper, they are covered.

“Rest assured, there is budget allocated to provide paper supplies for our schools.”

“I guess maybe there is a disconnect between what the teachers are feeling and experiencing and what the district believes is happening,” Padilla said.

KEA is still encouraging parents to donate paper supplies, including toilet paper, during their drive from October 9-12.

Padilla says she also hopes to work together with the school to come up with the best way to overcome the shortfall.