When thinking about where to cut corners in ordering supplies, there are some things that can be bought cheaper and other things that should be a bit higher quality. During my time teaching in Rutherford county, I experimented with my two schools. At one, I gave them regular yellow Blick brand pencils and at the other I gave them nice "art" drawing pencils. What I found was that my Blick pencils where gone through in about a month, even though I had about 100 less kids at that school than the other. The nicer pencils lasted the whole year and none were ever so short they had to be thrown away.
This year, I started my Guild kids with nice pencils. While they are not necessarily "art" pencils, they are soft natural wood pencils. And this is how my pencil baskets are left at the end of every class without even asking. They really take care of the things that they feel are special. We've used them for about a month now with 700 kids and I have only done a re-sharpening once. So I would recommend getting different "art"-specific pencils. The kids really seem to take more responsibility with these!