Kentucky teachers rank among the top 20 in the U.S. for out-of-pocket spending for their classrooms, according to a new report from Insider.
The report, released last week, revealed that between 2014 and 2015, 94 percent of public school teachers said they had to dig into their own pockets to pay for supplies in their classrooms — and largely without reimbursement.
“On average, these teachers reported spending $479 of their own money, and 7 percent of them reportedly spent more than $1,000,” the report revealed. “These teachers have had to pay for everything from basic pencils and art material to carpeting and even food for their students. In some cases, teachers have even turned to crowdsourcing services like GoFundMe to make up the difference.”
Kentucky ranked 13th in the nation for spending on the part of teachers.
The report indicates Kentucky spent $6.83 billion on public education and 59,040 teachers in 2016, with 45,460 taking the tax credit for out-of-pocket spending on school supplies.
The average public school teachers salary in Kentucky was $52,339, and 77 percent of teachers claimed an educator expense deduction in 2016.
Other Top 20 states, in order from first, included Rhode Island, Michigan, Louisiana, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, Florida, Arizona, New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New York, Mississippi, Maryland, Alabama, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine.
“Insider analyzed IRS data on the recipients of a tax program called the Educator Expense Deduction, eligible to any educator who spends their own money on books, supplies, computer software, or other class materials. Educators can qualify for up to $250 in relief, but it’s still a far cry from breaking even for those teachers who spent over $1,000,” the report states.
Here are some ways, including tips from real-life teachers, you could support the teachers in your community:
— Donate new supplies at the start of each school year. If you have the extra money, consider asking a teacher what supplies they could use in the help with. Maybe they need new markers, extra paper, lots of pencils or a special colored folder for each child in their class. If several people donated, it could make a huge difference.
— Volunteer at the school. Perhaps you’re unable to help financially. That is OK. Consider how you might donate your time to help teachers. Maybe you could select a couple teachers to help get their classroom organized and decorated for the new school year You could cut things out, hang times, rearrange desks, help carry things in from their vehicle, help the library re-shelve books, etc. Of course, there are opportunities throughout the year to help by organizing classroom parties, chaperoning fields trips and more.
— One teacher recommended donating gift cards to stores where supplies, creative seating, decor or more could be purchased. She said teachers often need these prior to the start of the school, so perhaps you could begin collecting gift cards now and donate them at the end of the school year for teachers to use the following year.
— Another teacher recommended asking teachers what items they run out of frequenting throughout the year and help them stock up. These items are often things like tissues, hand sanitizer, cleaning products like sanitizing wipes and paper towels.
— Many teachers have taken to social media to find sponsorships for books for their students. Teachers have asked for donations of $10 for students to be able to purchase a $1 book each month of the school year from book order companies. Another way to help would be to ask teachers what books they need in classrooms library and donate one or two.
— If you have extra supplies in your home, collect them and donate to a school or a specific teacher. Many people have a plethora of pens, pencils, markers, crayons, scrap paper, etc. in their homes that could be gathered and donated. Additionally, teachers are often looking for special seating options like stools, interesting chairs, benches, beanbags and more. If you are looking to get rid of any of these items, ask a teacher if they could use them first. Additionally, items like jackets, shoes and backpacks could be donated to Family Resource and Youth Service centers to help children in need. Usually, these items do not have to be new, just in good condition.