It’s no secret public schools around the US have recently struggled with budget cuts and insufficient funding from state governments. Real world manifestations of this abound. Budget cuts around the country have led to classrooms with pencil and paper shortages, broken plastic chairs, and students sitting on the floor because there aren’t enough desks. In some classrooms, students are forced to share books or computers, and teachers are given paltry budgets to buy supplies for their classrooms.
Many are having to dig deep into their own bank accounts to pay for supplies.
It’s not just a few cases resigned to the extreme fringes either. According to a government survey released by the Department of Education earlier this year, 94% of public school teachers reportedly paid for classroom supplies without reimbursement between 2014 and 2015. On average, these teachers reported spending $479 of their own money, and seven percent of them reportedly spent more than $1,000. These teachers have had to pay for everything from basic pencils and art material to carpeting and even food for their students. In some cases, teachers have even turned to crowdsourcing services like GoFundMe to make up the difference.
With a national average annual salary of just over $58,000 (some states like Montana and Missouri have starting salaries less than $32,000) these regular out of pocket payments can cause real financial burdens.
To find out just how many teachers had to use their own money for school supplies, INSIDER analyzed IRS data on the recipients of a tax program called the Educator Expense Deduction, eligible to any educator who spends their own money on books, supplies, computer software, or other class materials. Educators can qualify for up to $250 in relief, but it’s still a far cry from breaking even for those teachers who spent over $1,000.
INSIDER compared the number of federal filers who took the deduction and to the number of primary, middle and high school teachers in each state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This isn’t an exact ratio, since other education workers and administrators are eligible, but it’s a good estimate. It’ll also inexact because some teachers may not know about or not apply for the deduction.
Continue scrolling below to see the top 20 states where teachers spend the most out of pocket.