Davis school districts superintendent Mike Koster said Tuesday that a retailer has contacted him about selling discounted school kits and supplies for the school district.
Koster, who is president of the Davis school board, said the retailer contacted him earlier this week about the sale of a range of school supplies, including the “Famous Five” collection of school-related items, and he said he plans to talk with the retailer about how they would work.
He said the company is “not currently seeking an inventory purchase.”
Kraft, a Democrat who is also a former U.S. attorney in the district, said he had no idea that the retailer had approached him about the offer.
The district, he said, is working with a local retailer to find ways to promote the sale and make the sale more accessible to the public.
“We’re not making it so it’s just the sale,” he said.
Last week, a group of former Davis school students took out a campaign to get the school system to do more to promote discounted school items, such as the “Hoodie” kit and “Dale” shirt, in hopes of making the sale available to the district’s more than 2,000 students.
A number of school districts have sold school supplies in recent years, but many of the items are not necessarily new, said Mike Esterhoff, a Davis business professor and author of the book “Daves New School District: Lessons From Davis, California’s Most Livable City.”
“If you’re trying to get students to take more time off and spend more time at home, you need a little more than $30 worth of school stuff,” he told Fortune.
Davis schools Superintendent Mike Kostner (R) speaks at a news conference in Davis, Calif., on Monday.
At least one Davis school superintendent has been a regular visitor to the website “The Davis School Supply Club,” where the students and administrators discuss and post their school supplies.
Koster said the district has “been in discussions” with a manufacturer of a school supplies line that would be selling the items.
He said the offer was not related to the controversy surrounding the school board’s sale of school equipment to Walmart.
It was “really just a suggestion” by the manufacturer that the school districts equipment might be “available for purchase,” he wrote.
In January, the U.K. government ordered Walmart to end its “price-gouging” campaign against schools, which included offering discounts on products.
Walmart said it was removing the discounts to comply with the directive.
(Read more: The Davis school supplies sale is not just a local issue, however.
School districts across the country have been dealing with rising costs in recent months due to the recession, the school boards sale of equipment, the closure of some schools, and other school- related problems.
For example, in California, some of the districts largest school districts are struggling to keep up with increased enrollment due to low-income students who drop out due to budget cuts, Koster told Fortune in an interview last week.
The district in Davis is trying to make its supplies more affordable and available for purchase, but Koster noted that the district is not “the first district to see a lot of these types of issues, and we have some of our own issues, too.”
As of March, about 5 percent of the state’s elementary and secondary students were in the lowest-income category, according to the California Department of Education.
And some of these students are also experiencing increased financial hardship.
According to the latest U.N. data, the number of students in the lower-income bracket rose by 8 percent between 2011 and 2013, according a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Many of the problems facing schools have been exacerbated by the financial challenges faced by students who dropped out of school in recent decades, according the report.
But some students, particularly those in the middle class, have had their educational options limited in recent times.