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December 09th, 2022

lynn rogers bright start elc check presentationKansas Treasurer Lynn Rogers presents Bright Start Early Learning Center Principal Jamie Downs with a check through the Choose My School Supply Drive program late last month. Downs said she and the rest of the school staff were very surprised about the gift. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


The need for extra supplies in schools has long been a hot topic and recently, a school in Liberal received some money to help with just that. 

Last Friday, Kansas Treasurer Lynn Rogers presented Bright Start Pre-K Center with a $2,500 check that can be used for the purchase of school supplies. 

“529 accounts are a great resource for individuals to use for their own educational expenses, and businesses can set them up to provide funds to employees for continuing education as well,” Rogers noted in a separate release from the treasurer’s office. “Learning Quest is a great program, and I’m excited to be supporting Bright Start ELC with school supplies for this school year. Having been a school board member myself, I know how much of an impact we are making with this program.”

As Bright Start Pre-K Center Principal Jamie Downs tells it, there was quite a bit of excitement about the award. 

“State Treasurer Lynn Rogers' media specialist had reached out to us earlier this month and said Mr. Rogers would be coming around and wanted to present us with the money we'd received and all of that,” Downs said. “We were presented with a $2,500 check that could be used for school supplies, and the money was made available thanks to Learning Quest 529 accounts, which are used for college educational expenses. They came out Friday and presented us with our money and took some photos and all of that, and it was pretty exciting. There were more than 2,300 nominations for this giveaway, and we were very pleased to be one of the recipients.  We were pretty ecstatic, any time someone wants to give us money, we're pretty happy (laughing). We were really happy about it, this money will go toward helping our students out. Our enrollment is up this year, so having some extra money for supplies will definitely come in handy. And the visit itself was pretty quick – we'd gotten the call and got a heads-up about what time he'd be at the school, and then he came, talked to us for a little bit and gave us our check and took some photos. From what I recall, this program had opened last year, and one of our former teachers had applied for it. I can't say too much about that since I wasn't really involved with that part of the process, but they gave out funds based on Classroom Level, Building Level and District Level, and we received part of the Building Level awards.”

“He'd been going around other parts of the area like Holcomb and Deerfield before making his way here and now he's making his way to other parts of the state recognizing those recipients,” USD 480 Communications Coordinator Tyler Parks added. “We were all really happy to hear about this happening.”

Downs and Parks added the visit from Rogers was overall very positive. 

“We were all really excited, and like I said earlier, we're pretty ecstatic to have some extra funds to go toward helping our students, so it was an overall happy atmosphere,” Downs said. “And the state's trying to promote a program where people in the community can contribute, and then the state will match that contribution. The state's trying to get the word out more about the Learning Quest 529 accounts and their benefits, and we're happy to do our part with that. And it's great to start saving now, when these students are little, because the costs of higher education certainly aren't going down, so this is a great way to help save for the future.”

“The uses for the money itself are also pretty broad, it can be used for school supplies and other similar items,” Parks added. “Enrollment at Bright Start was up for this year, so it's a great time for us to have gotten some money like this. It's certainly never too early to start planning for the future, especially when it comes to education. The Learning Quest 529 accounts can be used for anything school-related like books and supplies, pretty much any of those needed materials when you get to college. It's a great way to protect and save money for when that time comes. ”

With a successful campaign for this year, Downs and Parks said the district would be willing to submit another nomination for the program. 

“We'd absolutely love to be up for something like this again, we're always looking for ways across the district to get funding like this to help the district. We definitely need to keep on the lookout for these types of programs, because most of us weren't even aware this was available,” Parks said. “It's always good when someone from Topeka makes their way out to Southwest Kansas. We're pretty much as far away as you can get from there, so it's always nice to be recognized and have someone from Topeka make the effort to do that. Enrollment increased at Bright Start about 50 students, so the extra supplies will be much appreciated, and we can't express enough thanks for being selected.”

“I would definitely agree with that and I'd certainly support any effort to go for something like this again. Anything any of our buildings can get that will help our students through programs like this, can only be positive,” Downs said. “We very much appreciate being a recipient of this money and I know this will be a big help for our Bright Start ELC students. There are a lot of other schools and districts who will also be getting some money, and I'm proud of them too because again, the fact that students will be helped through this is what really matters.”