Several county schools received funding last week through community service grants from the state's education budget, allowing them to purchase supplies and other items to help students and faculty.
Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Rep. Andy Whitt, R-6th, visited individual schools and Limestone County Schools' Central Office to distribute the funds. In total, more than $28,000 was awarded.
"You know, there's always items in a school, something not budgeted to pay for," LCS Superintendent Randy Shearouse said. "A lot of times, you try to help individual students if you can ... so to have that funding is excellent."
At Tanner Elementary, the funding will go to supplies for teachers and walkie-talkies for administrators, among other things. Assistant Principal Kandye Jones, in her first year at Tanner, said she reached out to Orr earlier this year after learning there wasn't a supply room at the school.
She said she was looking for large rolls of colored paper to decorate a bulletin board when she asked a teacher where the supply room is. Classrooms are routinely decorated with amazing, colorful displays to help with lessons — the kindergarten hall even has an undersea theme this year — and Jones was surprised to learn teachers had been paying for it all out of pocket.
"Tanner teachers, they rock it," she said. "These are some of the best bulletin boards and doors that I've seen at a school, and it comes out of their pockets."
Jones said she felt like a game show winner when Orr arrived Friday to present her with a check. Not only will they be able to help teachers with visual aids for students, they'll be able to get walkie-talkies so faculty and staff can better communicate throughout the day, and there's even additional funding for other things teachers might need.
"He was so generous with everything," she said. "We're totally excited."
After visiting Tanner Elementary, Orr paid a visit to Tanner High, where he presented Principal Deborah Kenyon with a check for $5,000. Kenyon said the funds can be used for whatever the school needs, but they're still in the process of figuring out which need it should go to first.
"We're very lucky that he continues to support us year after year," Kenyon said of Orr.
She explained previous grants from Orr has helped form the school's science, technology, engineering and math lab by covering the cost of computers, furniture and other supplies.
"He's always been very much an advocate of the Tanner community," she said.
Elsewhere in the county, four other schools will each receive between $2,350 and $4,900 to help with needs on their campus, courtesy of Whitt.
"This is my favorite part of the my job, to visit with our school superintendents and deliver these grants," Whitt said. He added that when people ask him what they should invest in, he always says, "Our best investment is in our children."
"We've got to give back and make sure we're taking care of our kids, because they'll take care of us eventually," he said.
Whitt presented the check to Shearouse. An accompanying letter listed the following as recipients:
• Ardmore High — $4,900;
• Johnson Elementary — $3,000;
• Cedar Hill Elementary — $3,000; and
• Creekside Elementary — $2,350.