Donors reimburse teachers with cash, gift cards

Clifton Elementary teacher Brandi MacDonald has pulled more than $1,000 out of her bank account each year for the past four years to buy her students books and art supplies, plus Christmas gifts for their parents.

She’ll be able to tuck $300 back into her wallet this year thanks to a $150 Barnes & Noble gift card and a $150 Office Max gift card donated to MacDonald through the Physical Therapy Specialty Center, 3150 N. 12th St. A fellow teacher nominated MacDonald for the gift, which she received in her classroom Wednesday.

“It’s nice to know others are willing to help out,” MacDonald said. “You can never have enough books.”

Paying money out of pocket for classroom supplies is nothing new for most teachers. MacDonald said she and fellow teachers try to order supplies together to save money on shipping and try to buy items for their schools tax-free when possible.

School District 51 set its reimbursement amount for classroom spending this school year at $160 per teacher. But because of budget cuts, teachers won’t be reimbursed for anything purchased after Nov. 19. The money-saving suggestion was proposed by a teacher, District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland said.

The district had to make about $3 million in budget cuts this year before re-adopting the budget, something school board members are expected to do Tuesday. Another $8.3 million shortfall is expected in the 2010-11 school year.

With reimbursements gone, teachers are turning to alternative funding sources for help. For example:

Palisade High School teacher Darcy Hall submitted a project funding request to the online education charity and recently received $285 from a donor and another $285 through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to buy books and supplies for 30 students.

Sam’s Club supplied 10 Rim Rock Elementary teachers with $100 each in September to buy classroom supplies.

In October, Nisley Elementary teacher Kim Castleton received $1,000 worth of supplies from Office Max through the “A Day Made Better” program.


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