With the budget of the Lawton Public School system being slashed to the bone, student supplies are at a bare minimum and parents are left to shoulder the expense of basic school supplies for their students. The district is well aware of that, and that parental involvement is essential to the success of any student.

To bolster the success of students in the district, and ease the burden of parents, the district has introduced the Johnson-O'Malley Program, a program that has been recognized as an Exemplary Program by the Area Education Office of the Federal Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Education. The honor was bestowed on the program at the February 16th meeting of the Lawton Board of Education.

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The program's goal is to provide supplies to native American students whose needs are unique to the tribal communities. Often tribal customs create hurdles for native students that none-native students do not have to face. The needs can range anywhere from school supplies, books, uniforms and club fees to a winter coats and even tutoring. In the future, the Johnson-O'Malley program aims to help more students in the classroom. Pending a 2017 budget request to Congress, the National Indian Education Association is aiming to expand the program's funding.

Although the program did exist as an outside entity or private program in Lawton, it wasn't under contract with LPS until 2016. The program, which has been in existence since 1934, has expanded from just over 300 students across the Lawton Public School System in 2013, to more than 820 just a year after its contract approval by the district. There are currently 29 more student applications pending.

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Story courtesy of: The Lawton Constitution and the Johnson-O'Malley Program

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