GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Why do teachers need help supplying basic supplies for their classrooms?
Many 24 Hour News 8 viewers have asked. Extra supplies are extremely important, teachers answered.
With school budgets tight statewide, school officials said they can't afford to give teachers additional money for items, or provide everything a classroom might need -- meaning many teachers have to buy the extra supplies on their own.
There's no way Deb Kooistra's fourth-grade classroom at Gladiola Elementary would make it through the year without some extra help, the teacher said Wednesday.
"(Any) given kid can go through three pencils in a day," Kooistra said. "The pencils break, they get stepped on (and) we have ongoing projects that the kids do. And some of my kids need supplies to go home, they need pencils and paper at home, so I give them stuff to take home. I'm not going to deny them that."
Most teachers receive limited supplies; for example, at Gladiola, in Wyoming, each classroom gets two boxes of pencils per semester. Each teacher is given between $75 and $150 to spend on other class materials for the entire year.
"Once the money runs out here in the district, the teachers foot the bill," said Bruce Cook, the principal at Gladiola. "They're the ones, it comes out of their pocket. They have no problem doing it. I've not heard complaints, but I know they put a lot of money into it -- more than what they should."
Kooistra spends between $500 and $1,000 dollars each year, in addition to what the school provides.
"My husband gave up asking a long time ago, when we went to Target, 'what are those for?' " she said. "It adds up, and it adds up quick."
That's why, Kooistra said, each pencil provided through the Teacher Wish List program is so important.
"This year, it felt like Christmas as these boxes would arrive and the kids and I could open them and put them in the supply closet," Kooistra said.
It doesn't just impact her wallet, but it touches her students, as well.
"The kids are excited they have supplies," Kooistra said. "Some kids come and they have supplies, some kids come and they don't have supplies -- so, I mean, right there, just the self-esteem of students; all of them being able to have supplies ... bottom line, it's helping the kids learn."
The shortage has always been an issue, she added, but it has gotten worse with the recent economy. School officials said it's not a school-by-school money issue; it's a state issue.
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