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Out-of-Pocket School Supplies Add Up for South Dakota Teachers

Public school teachers will spend on average $459 on school supplies for which they're not reimbursed this year, with California teachers spending the most and North Dakota teachers spending the least. (tjms.fairlawnschools.org)
Public school teachers will spend on average $459 on school supplies for which they're not reimbursed this year, with California teachers spending the most and North Dakota teachers spending the least. (tjms.fairlawnschools.org)
August 29, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Across the U.S., salaries of many public school teachers continue to stagnate, with some looking to a second job to help make ends meet.

Nonetheless, every year teachers are paying for school supplies for which they are not reimbursed.

Before the year is over, the average South Dakota teacher will spend $350 of his or her own money on classroom materials.

Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, says a new survey shows an overwhelming majority of K-through-12 teachers spend their own money to ensure students have what they need for a successful school year.

"There was a 2018 Department of Education survey that was released last week, and it indicates that 94% of public school teachers in the U.S. pay for supplies without reimbursement," she points out.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average out-of-pocket spending on school supplies by teachers is $460 per year.

California teachers spend almost twice as much on school supplies as do teachers in South Dakota, averaging $664 for which they are not reimbursed.

McCorkle notes that many teachers shop back-to-school sales, not only for their own children, but the children they teach.

She adds that parents also frequently purchase extra markers or notebooks and send them to classrooms because they want every student to have the supplies they need.

"Somebody doesn't have money for lunch, or they're behind, teachers are paying for that or educators are paying for that to make sure kids get fed,” McCorkle relates. “They are in the winter – somebody needs a coat – they're making sure that students have those."

The survey shows that teachers' unreimbursed school supply spending actually has increased overall since the economic recovery following the Great Recession.

State-by-state spending varies due to students' needs, how schools are funded in the state and the state's cost of living.

Disclosure: South Dakota Education Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Education. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD