Teachers are spending hundreds of dollars out of pocket

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Indiana's public school teachers say they lack some of the basic classroom supplies necessary to teach our children. They are spending a small fortune of their own money on things like pens, pencils and papers.

One in five teachers participating in our Exclusive Eyewitness News opinion poll say they are short on basic school supplies. Most say they are spending hundreds of dollars a year to buy what they need.

In addition to the billions of dollars taxpayers are pouring into classrooms, teachers are spending their own small fortunes. Teachers say they spend about $40 a month on Post-it notes, pens, and pencils and another $200 $400 on books and baskets to keep them in. Nearly $600 for scissors, stickers, and glue sticks.

"We understand it. We accept it. That's the way it is," said teacher Lezle Cegilo.

Teachers say it's been this way for decades. More than a third of the teachers answering our news survey spend more than $400 a year of their money for basic supplies, instructional materials, tissues and hand sanitizers.

All the shelves and closets full of resources are absolutely wonderful. The question is, are they absolutely necessary? Are students learning because of all this stuff? Many educators held accountable for all that learning say yes.

"As teachers we are expected to take it upon ourselves to make it happen," teacher Wanda Kimble said.

Administrators at Mary Castle Elementary and other Lawrence Township Schools say they're looking for ways to de-clutter. They've hauled off seven truckloads of stuff and now ask teachers what they can remove from their classrooms so children have more space for learning.

Joe Garner's classroom is clean and lean. He says simple is better. "It's minimalist because a lot of the stuff is made by the kids and it's not bought in the stores."

Saving a little money and giving kids some ownership and showmanship is what they've learned. While some schools want less stuff in the classrooms, teachers and principals are saying there is less funding and less money in school budgets to buy some of the things they really need.

To see the results of our survey, click here.

Read part one here. 

See part two here.

Read part three on parental involvement.