Urban Ed: Am I spending WAY too much money?????

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Enthusiastic5, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. Enthusiastic5

    Enthusiastic5 Rookie

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    Hello all!

    I've been engaged in a debate for the past 8-9 days or so with people from various walks of life. I need your help.

    I am a new teacher this year and will be teaching 5th grade in a diverse urban public school. I've been purchasing items from my classroom and the receipts are adding up to an alarming amount. I still wouldn't return anything because I feel confident with this material and since I am new, I am starting from scratch. I don't expect to spend this much again for a long time.

    In my district, we only get a $100 budget, which is reimbursed in March. I have gone WAY PAST that budget. The economy and lack of resources in urban public schools means that without me stepping up, I may not get this for a long time and several items may never be ordered. Do some of you also work in urban environments?

    PLEASE TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS ON MY SPENDING AND ON YOURS THIS YEAR. I would really appreciate it:

    FURNITURE:
    A HORSESHOE SHAPED GUIDED READING TABLE. I am building this with my uncle instead of buying it. Materials cost = $155 (I am saving over $150 doing it this way. This table allows me to focus my guided groups far better.

    TEACHER STOOL - for guided reading table - $15

    SMALL BOOKSHELF - Ikea $45

    TEACHER DESK CHAIR - (the wooden chairs in my district leave a lot to be desired in the post-dismissal planning hours. I usually stay in class to plan until 5pm) - $60

    FANS
    1 Oscillating Fan - $30
    2 compact fans - total $45 or so.
    (yes, I have to buy my own fans. Crazy for some I'm sure.)

    ORGANIZATION
    Sorters and Class paper organizers - $30
    Folders - $14

    MY CLASSROOM LIBRARY
    170 or so books that I found by visiting 19 different public libraries in 3 counties. Well worth the time investment. Some were free, most were cheap. I spent a total of $39 here.

    40 or so books that I still need to buy that will fill gaps in my library and give me a good start on new titles and "must haves" for both popularity and cultural relativity reasons. With my 20% book store discount and sale days, I expect to spend $110
    (I am eager to hear your thoughts on having this classroom library. Most urban schools are closing their libraries in exchange for an IMC, or Instructional Materials Center. I need my kids to continue leisure reading. Creating life-long readers is a major goal for me.)

    SUPPLIES
    Electric Pencil Sharpener, glue, scotch tape, masking tape, staplers, extra pencils and student erasers, hole puncher, dry erase markers, 3x5 cards, etc. = roughly $75 budgeted (half the cost is the electric pencil sharpener)

    Bulletin Board materials - roughly $25

    Prize Box - small tangible awards - initial cost: $35

    TOTAL AMOUNT PLANNED FOR SPENDING: $680 :eek: :dizzy: :wow:


    I student taught in this school. Most kids bring their supplies, but about 10 - 15% cannot afford them. Many parents send class supplies such as tissues, extra paper, tape, antibacterial, etc.

    What are your thoughts. How much do you spend?

    Honestly, speaking to many great urban teachers, this is not outrageous for new teachers in my district. Many cannot afford this their first year, and many absolutely refuse to pay anything more than their $100 allotted amount. Even if it means that their confidence and preparedness is reduced, they won't spend the money. I cannot work this way. My kids and my career deserve more. I feel willing to self sacrifice for them and invest in my stress level and comfort for year #1.

    Sorry so long..........................
     
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  3. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    My first year, I spent well over a thousand for my room. I have never bought furniture with my money, though, with the exception of the 2-shelf $9.99 bookshelves from CVS that fit under the white board, and my stool (which I already had). A teacher I work with made her own u-shaped table and uses it instead of a desk. The upside to buying what you want is that it is yours. Make sure to hold onto those receipts so if you leave the school, there will be no question. For my bookshelves, I copied it and taped it to the back and wrote my name with a Sharpie on the back.
     
  4. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Me too and I still probably spend that yearly (I don't add it all up, I may have to increase my blood pressure medicine). Some teachers don't believe in spending their own money, that's just their policy. Some people outside of education don't understand that for me, spending $100 on books so the kids will have something engaging to read will only help me and the kids. It's your budget - if you can still pay your light bill I wouldn't worry about what others in your life are saying.

    Good luck with your 1st year!
     
  5. Enthusiastic5

    Enthusiastic5 Rookie

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    Thank you! I really love knowing that this stuff will be mine, wherever I go. I never thought of having to prove that it is mine later, but good advice! Thanks!
     
  6. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    I don't think it is too much especially since some of the stuff, like the table, is an initial investment you won't have to buy again. I just would caution about going too crazy until you are actually in your room and see how things are running. I just bought this great book for teaching gifted readers and then found out that I am not going to have the gifted reader class after all.

    Also, label your stuff clearly with your name. This sounds petty but a lot of schools move everything around during the summer and you want to make your stuff gets back to you.

    And sometimes other teachers have extra stuff they want to get rid of. I have been upgraded to a bigger classroom this year (ya!) and there is a lot of furniture in there already that I passed on to other teachers. I had about ten rolling chairs which middle school students would love way tooo much so I sent them to another teacher.

    Have fun!
     
  7. jeljohns

    jeljohns Rookie

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    My first year I spent around $600. I was pretty shocked when I added up all the receipts. I have not spent much at the beginning of the year since then though.
     
  8. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Very embarrassed to say I spent slightly more than twice that by then end of my first year in an urban school. I almost fell out of my chair at tax time when I added up the receipts. You won't spend that much every year, and at least you have the stuff you need and want.
     
  9. Enthusiastic5

    Enthusiastic5 Rookie

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    Great point Budaka! I am not buying curriculum programs or instructional programs until I know that I need them. I figured that furniture and books are things you could never go wrong with. Thanks again for the advice.
     
  10. noreenk

    noreenk Cohort

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    My classroom library alone is probably worth at least $1,000 but was accumulated over five years teaching three grades. I spent a LOT of money my first two years, but as another poster said, I would probably put the brakes on it until you actually start teaching.

    My advice if you need more items for your room: Prowl garage sales and tell them you're a teacher (you can frequently get stuff for free) and wait until after the school year begins to buy any needed school supplies as they go on clearance. I can no longer justify buying expensive new things because I've seen the wear-and-tear they've undergone through yearly use... everything from getting permanent marker to lice. Hand-me-downs are fine, and can be dressed up with paint and fabric. This is the time to work any connections you have!
     
  11. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I just wanted to second the idea of saving receipts and writing your name on everything. I never thought that would be important, but last year I discovered that it is. It didn't happen to me, but other teachers who were also leaving my school were heavily questioned about things that they took with them and if they would have had receipts, it would have been easier.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Enthusiastic5-
    You are a caring and compassionate teacher who just wants to make sure your classroom has what it needs in order to be a well-functioning place of learning. I love that you have saved money making your own table and shopping library sales. Don't forget to check out FreeCycle, Craigslist and garaqge sales.

    Also, you should save all those receipts- you can deduct a certain amount off your taxes at year-end.
     
  13. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    You can actually deduct all of it if you itemize your taxes. Up to 250 if you don't.

    I have spent probably that much this summer, and I thought I spent less this year... I bought not one but two sharpeners (one for my use of sharpening the kids' pencils, and one for my class pencil sharpener to use) and a few books (20-30).

    I second checking out free cycle and craigslist. Mention you are a teacher and that you are trying to make your classroom a better place. I got my papasan chairs for cheap that way :)

    Good luck!
     
  14. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    I just realized yesterday that my shopping sprees are always for classroom stuff. I like having a comfortable environment in my classroom. I work with several well-to-do teachers who won't spend a penny on their classrooms. My room, on the other hand, is always inviting and well-stocked. I love walking into my room. I always get compliments on how nice and organized it is. I think spending my own money often is a necessary part of having a pleasant work environment. I don't mind at all.
     
  15. kalper07

    kalper07 Rookie

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    I never add it up because it would make me crazy and my fiance crazier but my classroom library is probably worth thousands.

    Teaching is a passion and we are not all fortunate to work in districts with budgets. Your kids are lucky to have you.

    Save your receipts for taxes and take care of yourself this year.

    Good luck. You are not crazy!!!
     
  16. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Let me know if any of the books you want or need are on Sprout-I'll give you a discount! Click the link below.
     
  17. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Everyone is different but as people have said, many of us spend a lot of money but we choose to do so. Don't do it if you resent it or can't afford it. As far as I am concerned, if it makes my life/job easier and I have the money, why not? If I was in an office I would buy stuff to personalize my office, my kids who are construction workers had to buy their own tools, my husband has to buy his own reference books - how is this different?

    I have not been good about keeping receipts. I know of one teacher who left who they really gave a bad time but others have carted a million things away. Try to label everything which I try to do but everything often gets mixed up.

    Anyway, it sounds like you really care and are thoughtful. Have a great year.
     
  18. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Your expenditures sound reasonable. I bet you're not done yet, either. Check thrift stores frequently. Attend the teacher freebies at stores like Staples. Buy all the 1 cent and 10 cent items you can. Shop at Dollar Tree.

    It's worth it to have the comfort of a room to call your own, where you know you have what you need at any given moment.
     
  19. Lionteacher

    Lionteacher Companion

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    I don't think its a big deal at all. I currently have all my personal items in my classroom insured for 3,000 so that way if something were to get stolen or there was a fire I could replace all my items and still have a great classroom and the resources I am used.

    I also recommend saving your receipts to keep track of your items. My principal didn't ask anything when I left about items but I have heard horror stories about teachers trying to take their stuff when the leave.
     
  20. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I have over 900 books in my classroom library. I have collected these books over the years. It helps that my children are older so MANY of my classroom books were their books to begin with. I get most of my books from freecycle or library book sales. I only shop the bag days where I can usually spend $5 to a grocery bag full of books!
     
  21. futureteach21

    futureteach21 Habitué

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    You do what you have to do to be the best teacher you can be! If you think it will make you a better teacher and more capable, then I say go for it. It shows you care about your students and their education.
     
  22. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    I could not imagine teaching without buying a lot of resources, supplies and equipment. Let everyone know what you might need. I found about 6 tables at Goodwill a month ago==for $5 each. I bought all of them and gave them to teachers who needed them. And, my husband was in charge of the school warehouse one year. He sold lots of surplus equipment. I bought lots of tables, chairs and overheads for my day care from him. If you work for the district, you have a right to request those items for your classroom. Getting aquainted with the warehouse staff is a good idea.
     
  23. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    At my grandson's school, there is a list of wanted items listed in the hall by the office. Since I am such a nice person, I search for those items when I am out shopping. I shop the Goodwill bins where everything is sold by the pound. I find lots of puzzles and games for the school, and donate them.
     
  24. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I absolutely agree it is worth it just to reduce the stress on you the first year. I would, however, agree with another poster about waiting to make sure of what you need. I also bought stuff intended for 5th grade and then found out at the last minute I am teaching Kindergarten. Also things I think are not provided, ended up being provided. So I'm trying to be prudent at this point and wait until the professional week of school. By then all of our resources will hopefully have been sent to the right room (moving into a new school) and I will have a better idea of what I need. Also many teachers DO start piling stuff in the hall for people to take. I plan to be a scavenger that week. Once I have a better handle on what I actually need, I will do my purchasing. That doesn't mean, however, if I find a good deal in the meantime (since it is back to school sales time) that I won't buy stuff ahead. I'm not that stupid. :)

    Do you absolutely know that the school won't provide the furniture you are making? If they won't, then I think you are getting a good deal having it made. That's a good investment.

    You got great deals on books! Wow! I applaud your effort in that area!

    I remember my first year buying sharpie markers and discovering that the school actually supplies them. You said you worked in this school before so I'm assuming you do have a good idea what is provided and what is not. Just make sure you aren't spending money on things you could get for free.

    I can't spend much on my first classroom but I have accumulated a few things in my days as an aide so I'm not going into it completely unprepared even if it feels fairly bare. I do have a few things to buy but like I said, I'm waiting on this for practical purposes.

    Personally, I think you have done well. :thumb:
     
  25. alilisa

    alilisa Habitué

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    My first year I spent well over a thousand! I taught in an urban school and the school had NOTHING! The kids also didn't bring school supplies! How do you buy school supplies for 20 kids on the money we were given (which was $0)? The upside-when I moved to a new school- it was all mine and I didn't have to start from scratch again! :)
     
  26. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    I have to say, with all that I have bought for my classroom over the years, my biggest fear is a school fire where I will lose all I invested. (of course, a fire when school is out!)
    My classroom library alone has to be around 1000 dollars, like another poster said. The books and my office chair have been my biggest investments!
     
  27. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I want a rocking chair but it isn't my priority this year. Maybe I'll ask for it for Christmas.
     
  28. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Sadly for me, I've spent way more than you on my classroom. You will always find something you'll want to purchase and incorporate, so no worries.
     
  29. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I spent about $2100 last year, which was my first year. I would have been happy spending only $700!
     
  30. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    That's my fear too - when we had the hurricane last year I was so afraid to come back and find things ruined. I work in a very old building (like 80 years old) and the windows have little cracks in them and everything. I couldn't take everything home with me (because with my luck then my house would have gotten hit). They really should sell some sort of teacher resource insurance :p.
     
  31. Enthusiastic5

    Enthusiastic5 Rookie

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    I'll surely check out garage sales and craigslist. Thank you again!
     
  32. Allysundrop

    Allysundrop Rookie

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    I don't know who you bank with or if you have any credit/debit cards that accumulate points, but Wachovia's reward points has tons of stuff you can get. Most of it isn't relevant to teaching....but I did see an electric pencil sharpener on there. I can just cash in my points to get one (it's also my first year).

    So long story short....cash in your reward points for gift cards or even possibly items. If you don't have reward points, see if you can sign up for a reward program. My bank has one for debit cards as well as credit cards.

    Also....just checked my Habitat for Humanity Resale store. It has paperback books for $.25.
     
  33. teach2read10

    teach2read10 Companion

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    Budget

    I limit myself to no more than $500.00 per year. I walk past a lot of good stuff i could use every summer when i stock up for the coming year.
     
  34. natelukesmom

    natelukesmom Companion

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    I just wanted to say that I probably spent about 1,000 my first year, just as others have said. Consequently every year after that I have only spent a few hundred. It gets less & less. However unlike you, I work in a pretty affluent community - I just like to have my own stuff. I am very spoiled.
     
  35. noreenk

    noreenk Cohort

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    I got my first fridge on clearance at target... after a few years it died on me, so i used credit card points to get an even bigger one... FREE! Good point, Allysundrop!
     
  36. dunwool

    dunwool Rookie

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    I am also a first year teacher where we get a $100 budget and I have spent a lot of my own money on supplies, decorations, books that I have been collecting through college, and more! Well over the district provided $100 for sure!

    But I agree with the other posters that said if you can financially afford to do so, then what is the harm? Especially if it makes your classroom a better place for students to learn in and to feel like a home away from home! I really want my classroom to be a comfortable place for my students but also me to be in since we are there for so long every day!

    Last year I worked with several teachers who also refused to spend their own money on anything for the classroom and that worked for them. For me, I see it like anything else... the start up costs are usually a lot (think of all the things you have to buy when you first move out of the house!) but they are things that you won't have to buy every year! Those books will be used for many years to come so I see that like more of an investment personally! :)

    Good luck this year and I share your nerves and excitement as another first year teacher! :)
     
  37. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    That is kind of how I fee (re: dunwool's comment about why not spend on your classroom). I spend more time there... why not make it comfortable :)
     
  38. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    KinderCowgirl, my building is also very old-we just celebrated our 90th birthday last spring. :eek:
    I think of all of you in the hurricane regions every year, and the tornado alley teachers as well. We really should have some sort of insurance. When I think of all the money teachers around the world have invested, we should have some sort of security!
     
  39. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Check with your P's about insurance. We've had 2 instances where teachers have lost personal belongings due to water damage. Once when frozen pipes burst & another time when we had lots of rain & the building flooded. Both times the school's insurance covered all items, including personal items.
     
  40. Miss J. Pre-K

    Miss J. Pre-K Comrade

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    Don't spend money on consumables until you know what your budget is and what is provided by your school. I bought tons of paint, paper, scissors, glue, other art supplies and all that and more were provided by my Head Start center last year. This year I'm in public school, so I have no idea what will be in my room, except I know I'm getting all new furniture (because it's a new pre-k program).

    I've probably spend over $1,000 in total, but I started my sophomore year of college and bought little stuff as I could, so now that I'm broke and starting teaching, I am spending very little. I've bought $1 nametags, $5 worth of books (actually a whole bagful at a library sale), a $15 beach umbrella and $5 in leis--my reading center will be tropical this year. And I may buy more once I see what's provided but it probably won't be more than $200.
     

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