With school budgets across the U.S. being cut, a growing number of public school teachers are reaching into their own pocket for classroom supplies. A recent survey from insurance firm Horace Mann found that 26 percent of teachers spent $400 of their own money on school supplies in 2012, three percent more than 2011.
"It has gotten worse for us ... especially since we haven't received a raise in seven years," Mallori Lucas, a reading and language arts teacher at Union Township Middle School in Valparaiso, Ind. told USA Today.
"Of course we're not forced to spend our money. But some of these kids don't even get breakfast before they come to school, so we buy them snacks and treats," Lucas said.
North Carolina pre-kindergarten teacher Hannah Martin, 23, makes about $34,000 a year and supplements that by babysitting, according to USA Today.
"I only have $100 from the school for the whole year to buy supplies, and it's not enough," Martin said.
Martin rents a room in a house she rents with four other women.
"I do the babysitting to help get money to buy toys and books. I even had to buy shelves and a stool for the kids to stand on to wash their hands at the sink. I spent about $500 on supplies last year, and it definitely hurts my own pocketbook," she said.
"We're letting our teachers know how rough the situation is," fiscal accountant at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Eric Moore told USA Today. "We've only got about 35% of our past budgets for supplies this year.”
"After the Great Recession, decisions were made to cut supply funding instead of teaching positions, and we're still facing that lack of funding," he said.
Teachers are even going only to solicit donations to buy pens, pencils, paper or computers. Some use the web to raise money for class trips.
"We've had a 30% year growth from last year in the number of requests from teachers," said DonorsChoose.org CEO Charles Best.
There appears to be no end in sight to budget cuts.
"I don't see how this gets any better," said Lucas at Union Township Middle School. "Cuts keep happening. It's too bad, because this is such a great school."