WYANDOTTE — Officials with Wyandotte Public Schools received a benevolent donation from the Wyandotte Nation on Tuesday, Dec. 13: A check for $100,000 to help aid the blow from state budget cuts.
The tribe’s board of directors, along with Chief Billy Friend, presented the check to Wyandotte Public School Superintendent Troy Gray and members of the school board at the tribal administration building.
Friend said the tribe has stayed informed on how the state cuts have impacted local public school systems and wanted to lend a helping hand to its community partner.
"On behalf of the Wyandotte Nation, the Board of Directors, our tribal members, we just want to say how much we appreciate the Wyandotte school system,” Friend said. “It is a part of our community, it’s a part of us, it’s our namesake and we are very proud of the Wyandotte Schools. We appreciate the job Superintendent (Troy) Gray and the school board does. You guys do an excellent job. You are great stewards with the budget.
“This is not something where Troy came to me, nobody solicited this donation, but we read the newspapers, we see the headlines, and we know small schools are taking a big hit lately and we just happen to be in a position to help and that is what we want to do."
Friend said the money is not earmarked for anything specific and school officials can use the money to address any need.
“It’s a blessing and Wyandotte Public Schools is so grateful to have a tribe like Wyandotte Nation,” Gray said. “They’ve always been there. They’re not just a partner to Wyandotte Schools, but they’re also a partner in the community.
"Times are really tough right now in the state of Oklahoma, throughout, and we have a tough time meeting budgets. This money comes as a blessing for us - not to just buy things that you wish you had, but also to protect what you need. One thing is to make sure that all of your students have what they need in the classroom.”
Gray said the money will be saved for future needs and to help ride out the storm of approaching budget cuts.
The potential cuts to education are still not definite, but the rumors are to prepare for at least a five percent cut next year.
“We’re going to make sure to be very frugal with this money and make sure that whatever we need for our students and our staff to protect them is going to be there and this will help fill that hole," Gray said. “The timing is just unbelievable and it is a Godsend.
“We appreciate Wyandotte Nation because we have a lot of question marks and we spend a lot of hours analyzing budget with a lot of concerns. We’re not sure where we’re going to be at, and for them to come down, help us out, be a friend and a partner, this is just an amazing situation for us.”
Friend said the tribe and the board discussed donating the money to the school district about three months ago.
“I was in a meeting and I brought it up to the board,” Friend said. “The board was unanimous in their approval of the donation. We’ve just always worked well [together].
"We realize the budget cuts that are taking place statewide, and we were in a position, financially, to be able to help. We felt like it was a great opportunity for us to give back.”
Gray said $100,000 is the equivalent to approximately three teacher salaries.
After the check presentation, he announced the donation to his staff, teachers and students with the school’s One Call System.
“I think this lets the teachers now that there is a partner who cares, recognizes what they do, how special they are and the impact they make on kids,” Gray said. “Wyandotte Nation has always been a great friend and stepped up to the plate. We’re blessed. A lot of district don’t have this opportunity. Chief Friend, Mayor Leon Crow and the Wyandotte School District is one community, one family and a lot of places don’t have that.”
Ultimately, Friend said he hopes this donation proves how much the tribe and the community cares about the Wyandotte School District.
“We realize that we entrust our greatest asset to them - our children," Friend said. "Hopefully, this is a small step going forward that they know there are others in the community that do support them.
"If we’re in a position to help in the future, we will help them again. We hope this is something we can continue to do, to give back.”