Students return to school on Monday in Palm Beach County, but teachers have been back in school for almost two weeks to get a jump start on the 2014-2015 school year. The amount of preparation is immense and school hallways across the county are abuzz as instructors set up their classrooms and ensure they have all of the necessary supplies in place for their new set of students.
Included in their preparation is the purchase of classroom supplies to enhance the learning environment for their pupils. In a study compiled by the National School Supply and Equipment Association for the 2012-2013 school year (most recent), public school teachers spent approximately $1.6 billion of their own money to provide various classroom supplies.
The study’s findings indicate that 99.5 percent of all teachers spend some money on supplies, with a national average of $485 per instructor; ten percent of those surveyed indicated spending $1,000 or more out of pocket. In Florida, a state where the average starting salary for teachers is just over $35,000, these expenditures can be burdensome. When you factor in that parental contribution to school supplies was down 22% over 2011, the situation is even more dire.
A recent Huffington Post article delves into the nature of the items teachers spend money on in support of the learning environment:
It is eye-opening to recognize that teachers’ contributions go far beyond just pencils, papers, and crayons. Realizing that resources are woefully low, Palm Beach County School District in collaboration with Palm Beach Broadcasting invited teachers to register for a School Supply Drive. The expectation was that maybe 200 teachers would register; the reality was that greater than 1,200 teachers signed up to participate. A quick assessment of the shortfall led Palm Beach Broadcasting Market Manager, Elizabeth Hamma, to put out a call to local business partners for support. Steinger, Iscoe & Greene founding partner Michael Steinger responded to the call for assistance via email:
“I saw that you are trying to raise $10,000 for this drive. Considering that you already raised $6,000, you can count Steinger, Iscoe & Greene in for $4,000. I and everyone at Steinger, Iscoe & Greene appreciate and understand the important role teachers play in the lives of our children.”
This is what it means to stand-in-the-gap, roll up your sleeves, and help the community at large. This contribution and community business collaboration will have exponential effects throughout the local area. Yes, the teachers are getting much needed assistance and are now able to provide vital supplies to aid their students in learning. But it is the young learners who will most benefit from the generosity of all of the local business partners who came together to make this happen.
Steinger says, “Our children deserve our best, so do their teachers – outside of a parent, who is more significant in a child’s life?” In summing up the firm family’s contribution and role in helping to make the event successful, he says, “Being there for the community when they need us is what we do as a law firm and it is what I am privileged to do…” For sure, the effects of this event will reverberate through the community by lessening the financial burden on teachers and enhancing the learning environment of our most vulnerable citizens; our children.