Spokane Co. Treasurer’s Office issuing $3 million to buy PPE for Eastern WA schools

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane County Treasurer’s Office is issuing $3 million to purchase PPE for schools across Eastern Washington.

The funding will be made September 1 through a Local Direct Investment (LDI) from the Spokane Public Investment Fund. According to the Treasurer’s Office, the $3 million will go to Northeast Washington Educational Service District 101 (NEWESD), which provides programs and services to schools across seven counties in Northeast Washington.

NEWESD 101 will then have 90 days to pay back the LDI.

The Treasurer’s Office says they manage nearly $1.3 billion in local government revenues, and are charged with investing it—the LDI program allows them to invest up to five percent of that total into local programs and institutions.

“We want to help our schools however we can to have the equipment and safe facilities necessary to offer in-person education this fall,” said County Treasurer Michael Baumgartner. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unique challenges one of which is compliance with the Governor’s social distancing mandates. This partnership with NEWESD 101 helps schools around the state have the safety measures they need in place and I am pleased to be a part of that effort.”

This latest investment is to secure PPE equipment for school districts across the state, and saves taxpayers money that might otherwise be spent trying to get private financing.

“NEWESD and the public-school districts and private schools we serve and support are extremely grateful to the Spokane County Treasurer’s Office for making this loan, supporting the purchase of needed PPE in order to facilitate teaching and learning while the pandemic continues – protecting the safety of students, families and educational professionals,” said NEWESD 101 Superintendent Dr. Michael Dunn.

Earlier this summer, NEWESD 101 was hearing concerns from school districts around the area concerning PPE. Schools were worried about whether or not there would be inventory to purchase for students and staff. And if there was PPE to buy, there were concerns about the price and if they could afford it?

That’s why NEWESD 101 invited local districts to team up and combine their purchases. Simply, the way it works is everyone is still responsible for paying for the items that they ordered. But this way, they’ll be able to cut a better deal.

School districts had a list of items they could buy from masks to hand sanitizer.

It’s similar to if you were to shop at a grocery store versus a wholesaler like Costco. We’d save more money by the unit if we’re willing to purchase in bulk.

“The single-use surgical masks. Those people who purchased some of those. I think we ended up getting those for $0.07 a mask. Which is considerably less than what you would pay off the shelf somewhere,” Dr. Dunn said.

The two biggest districts in eastern Washington, Spokane Public Schools and Central Valley School District, opted not to take part. Though, almost every other district did – including Medical Lake, Liberty, and Newport.