Teachers break down out-of-pocket back-to-school spending


This year, back-to school shopping is on track to set a new record for spending.

According to the National Retail Federation, families with kids up to high school plan to spend an average of almost $700.

It’s not just parents forking over the money, it’s also teachers.

“I have a plan book and grade book,” said Shelli Mosier, an art teacher at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy. “This is a very small bag compared to normal and I spent $70.”

But that purchase is just a fraction of how much Mosier spends on supplies in total.

“I spent over $500 myself,” said Mosier. “You’re doing it for the kids and you want them to love learning and love school. As a teacher, you do what you can to make that a reality for them.”

But making that reality possible is forcing teachers to dig deeper into their pockets.

On average, teachers shell out about $479 for classroom supplies, according to the National Center of Education Statistics.

“Because of what our kids are used to, there has to be a little extra now to get them engaged and pull them into learning, so that cost has risen I think,” said Mosier.

Two years ago, it became Tennessee Law to provide teachers will $200 for instructional supplies.

But most teachers say it’s not enough.

Former teacher Sonia Dorer owns Teach a Child supply store in Hermitage.

“What the schools give the teacher has gone down, and what they pull out of pocket has gone up,” said Dorer.

Dorer said she tries her best to help teachers who feel the pinch.

“We just really try to help them because I don’t want anybody to spend money they don’t have,” said Dorer.

Out-of-pocket costs aren’t limited to Back-to-School time – it’s year-round.

Teachers have to replenish their supply, adjust for changing seasons, also for changing curriculum.

Mosier said in the end, teachers just have to make it work.

Her tips – buying before school starts for deals and buying in bulk on Amazon.

Mosier said all that is supplemented by donations, none too small.

“A bit of help is beneficial to the teacher and the students in the classroom,” she said.

Back to School Supply Giveaway for students and teachers:

Dickson County – Thurs, 10 am – 6 pm at McLemore St

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