Teachers say funding for school supplies still not adequate

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    By CATHY GEIGLE

    Teachers providing for their own classroom materials were encouraged by a bill passed in the Legislature Monday that will give teachers $50 more a year to buy supplies. However, some teachers say it still doesn’t cover costs.

    The Funding Classroom Supplies Bill gives teachers up to $200 for the 1999-2000 school year to spend on materials, supplies, and field trips for their students.

    Even though this is a $50 increase from last year, some teachers say it still will not cover the cost of their classrooms.

    “Funding will probably always be inadequate because there will always be students in need,” said Patti Harrington, assistant superintendent for the Provo School District.

    Harrington sees the increase as beneficial. She said teachers want something for their classrooms and they go out and buy it, which turns into extra expenses.

    At Joaquin Elementary in Provo many teachers spend $800 to $900 of their own salary on supplies each year, according to Principal Don Dowdle.

    “I appreciate the increase and hope it can continue to make a dent in the out-of-pocket spending,” Dowdle said. He said his wife, a teacher in the Alpine School District, spends $1,200 to $1,500 a year on her classroom.

    But the increase was far too low for Ginny Smith, a first-grade teacher at Edgemont Elementary School. She said the basic materials are not enough to effectively teach students anymore.

    “We are moving on in technology but the money we get is not allowing us to keep up with it,” Smith said.

    Smith argues that although learning takes place in the mind, teachers need the means to help internalize this learning.

    “They need quality products and they can tell the difference,” Smith said.

    Smith said teachers are pulled in different directions.

    They want to be effective educators, but they also need that money to support their families, Smith said.

    Teachers who are the sole supporters of their families don’t make a large income as it is, but then they end up spending a large chunk of their paychecks on their classrooms, Smith said.

    While Smith realizes that all of the money in the state cannot go towards education, she said that it is a worthy cause.

    “Yes, other things are important, but there is no better investment than our children,” Smith said.

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