Teachers' reimbursement fund cut

August 14, 2008 8:59:38 AM PDT
A fund called Teacher's Choice was established about two decades ago to reimburse teachers for personal spending on classroom supplies.

It is financed by the city council, but an increase that allowed higher reimbursement last year has been cut. That will leave some teachers feeling the pinch.

Many teachers spend hundreds of dollars of their own money on basic classroom supplies.

"It is our obligation as teachers to make sure teaching is done no matter what cost," said Nancy Shapiro, who is a special education teacher at a city public school. "If that means coming out of our own pocket, unfortunately that's what happens."

According to the teachers' union, the average teacher spends $500 of their own money for supplies. A negotiated increase last year reimbursed them up to $260. That figure has been cut to $150, which is where the reimbursement figured started 22 years ago.

"They spend it on paper, crayons, on toys for kids," union president Randi Weingarten said.

She said teachers deserved to have those increases restored.

"Now, this is going to be shifted to parents and other folks as well as teachers digging deeper into their own pockets," she said.

A website called donorschoose.org allows teachers to make a case for donations.

A spokesman for city council points out that the city has restored about 65 percent of the Teacher's Choice budget. We're told that council remains committed to the idea of helping teachers provide the best education possible for New York City's children.

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