GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Inflation is impacting everyone including our teachers, many of whom pay out of pocket for a lot of the supplies and materials their students use in the classroom.
Renee Taylor, an elementary school teacher at Grand Rapids Public Schools, has been teaching for 22 years. She says books, pencils, folders and paper are just a few of the school supplies that are costing more.
“It’s made teachers a lot more selective about what we are going to buy because we have to consider our personal household budget. Because of inflation, there’s less. There’s less money that’s extra,” Taylor told News 8.
GRPS was one of several school districts across West Michigan to welcome students back to campus this week.
At the end of last school year, Taylor was able to submit a list of items she needed for her classroom for this school year but not all schools and districts offer that kind of support or any support at all.
“It would be great if every classroom in the state had a given amount of money that they can spend to buy things for their classroom. All classrooms are not treated the same. You have some classrooms where if the teachers aren’t buying it, then the kids don’t have it,” Taylor said.
She added it’s especially difficult for first-year teachers who have to decorate their classroom.
“A new teacher is probably spending $250 to $500 just to be ready for the first day because they are building their classroom. They’re building their classroom library. Everything is new and they have to buy everything that they want for themselves,” Taylor said.
She said she most educators buy supplies because it helps a child learn but any donation from parents or the community is appreciated.
Said Taylor: “It does save a lot of money and it helps the kids. It helps them have a better quality education.”
“Educators are frankly undercompensated and go out of their own pockets every year to get supplies for their kids. Any little bit helps,” Thomas Morgan, Communications Consultant for the MEA, told News 8.
Morgan asks parents to work with their child’s teachers and support them as they try to give students the tools they need to succeed.
“Get involved in your child’s education,” he said. “Just check in and ask if there is anything they need for their classroom. I’m sure it’ll be appreciated, especially now.”