Teachers talk out-of-pocket costs for supplying classrooms

The cost of school supplies is adding up for teachers paying for them out of their own pockets.

HOUSTON - You know the start of a new school year is right around the corner when we hit Tax-Free Weekend.

The sales tax-free holiday started Friday. During the three-day weekend, you can save on things like clothing and school supplies.

Related: Tax-free Weekend: Here's what you need to know

But even with deep discounts, pens and paper can really add up, especially if you’re a teacher.

“This was my third trip this week,” said Robert Blain as he loaded 200 spiral notebooks into the back seat of his SUV. “I bought Sharpies, colored pencils, highlighters and markers. This is my 12th year."

He’s a high school government and economics  teacher.

“It costs teachers, easily, $300 to $400 a year," he said.

Teachers from across Houston sent in photos and video to KHOU 11 News showing the supplies they purchase on their own dime.

From elementary school to high school, glue sticks to classroom furniture, “being a government teacher and an economics teacher, eventually something has to give,” Blain said. “Districts have to make cuts somewhere, because the last thing they want to cut is the boots on the ground.”

Leave it to educators to find a way. Non-profit organizations like www.DonorsChoose.org allow teachers to post their supply needs. Anyone can log on and make a donation. It works like a GoFundMe page, but it is specific to education.

“And I love hearing stories, like when Stephen Colbert personally funded every Donors Choose project from his home state of South Carolina,” Blain said.

Another teacher shared how she’s partnered with a local business to supply her middle school classroom.

“There’s nothing worse than $20 in supplies being the difference between a kid being able to do the assignment and not," Blain said.

Teachers say if they save their receipts, they can get a tax deduction for up to $250 worth of work-related purchases. But when they’re spending hundreds of dollars each school year, it’s help, but it’s  not enough.

“I’m working for a living, just like everybody else,” Blain said.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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