Education

Texas teachers spend more out-of-pocket than any other state

Texas teachers are expected to spend almost $300 million on school supplies, more than any other state.

Sara Willa Ernst / Houston Public Media
A classroom for special education Pre-K students at Townewest Elementary School in Fort Bend ISD.

As Houston ISD teachers get ready to welcome students back into their classrooms next week, they're also spending more out of pocket on school supplies this year than ever before.

According to "My E-learning World", a web portal for online learning, Texas teachers are expected to spend almost $300 million on school supplies, more than any other state.

The data finds that teachers will spend an average of $820 out of pocket.

The web portal showed that on average, teacher spending this year break down like this:

  • Non-consumable supplies (books, software, etc.) – $193.55
  • Classroom decor – $172.23
  • Consumable supplies (pencils, paper, etc.) – $142.70
  • Food and snacks – $121.39
  • Prizes – $119.74
  • Cleaning supplies – $70.53

Michelle Williams, an 8th grade math teacher at Forest Brook Middle School within HISD, said she has already spent over $500 of her own money, but is expecting to spend even more as the school year continues.

"This year I probably will spend more because I plan on doing more projects so I'm looking to incur a larger cost," Williams said.

She says if the school doesn't supply materials, teachers will have to replenish them.

In addition to school supplies, Williams is also purchasing cleaning supplies for her classroom to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Like most school districts, HISD does not reimburse teachers for school supplies. Williams says the district should beginning to compensate its staff.

"They should reimburse it because they want all these engaging activities and things like that and it comes at a cost."

In an emailed statement, HISD said school administrators have been collaborating with teachers to meet their needs.

“As teachers prepare to welcome students back to school, principals and school administrators have been collaborating with educators to ensure instructional needs are met including adequate school supplies,” the statement said. “Prior to spending their own money on school supplies, teachers should reach out to their school administrators to determine item availability and the best course of action.”

This article was updated on 8/22/22 at 9:20 a.m. to include HISD’s response.

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