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As the beginning of a new school year draws near, it’s not just parents who are scouring the big-box and office-supply store sale fliers for deals on school supplies. Teachers are under more pressure than ever to provide the kinds of items that used to be stocked in supply closets or provided by school districts — and they can get yelled at for an infraction as small as using up too much copier paper.
Even though the economy’s been in recovery for some time now, schools never reversed the cutbacks they implemented during the recession, and many are actually spending less per pupil this back-to-school season, according to CBS News. As a result, most teachers spend more than $500 per year on school supplies out of their own pocket.
The problem is that state-level school funding has been cut way back, and municipalities are loathe to fill the gap by hiking property taxes. Not having enough money is especially acute in some districts and in lower-income neighborhoods, where parents might not have enough money — or kids might be living with a grandparent on a fixed income — to pay for basic school supplies, let alone the paper towels, hand sanitizer and other items schools now ask them to provide. One teacher interviewed by CBS said she was only allotted $1.60 for school supplies per kid — for the entire year.
In many places, the situation is dire. CBS cited data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that found more than 30 states actually paid less per student in school funding in 2014 than they did back in 2008. As a result, teachers are digging more deeply into their pockets than ever before, and that’s before the school year has even begun.