B-A teacher spending rises with national average


Corbin Nale

B-A teacher spending for their classrooms is right there with the state average of more than $400 per year.

Jackson Boyer, Staff Writer

Bellwood-Antis Superintendent Dr. Tom McInroy knows what it’s like to be a teacher working on a tight budget, and because of this  he is dedicated to make sure his teachers have it better than he once did.

In 1988, Dr. McInroy started teaching Art in grades K-12 at Forbes Road School District.  He was earning a pay of about $14,000 (an amount, he said, that qualified him for food stamps, although he never used them.)  

On the first day he opened up the cabinets and discovered old, dried out paper from 1961.  These were not sufficient for his class, and he went to the office to see about ordering new supplies.  He was told that it could not be done.

As a result Dr. McInroy took matters into his own hands. He went to local stores and asked to dumpster dive for cardboard and other supplies that could benefit his classes. 

Because of this experience, he this he wants his teachers to have as much as possible.   

However, a new study reveals that more and more teachers are supplying their own materials for their classrooms, though they may stop short on rummaging through the trash, like Dr. McInroy. 

The amount the average teacher in America now spends on their classroom from their own pockets is a staggering $459 per year.  This is well above the typical $250 tax deduction that teachers receive from the IRS.

Pennsylvania is slightly under the national average with the commonwealth’s teachers spending roughly $420 per year.  

“Teachers are unique in the sense that we … pay a portion of union dues to hold our position as well as (supply) any materials needed outside of our budgets.  All of this in the idea that we should work to ‘make’ a living versus work to provide an experience for our students,” stated Leah McNaul B-A’s high school and middle school art teacher.

Teachers feel compelled to spend their money to make the classroom better, and to meet their employment requirements, she said. 

How does Bellwood fare in this epidemic?  The district seems to come about even with or just below the average spending for the state, according to a survey of teachers at all three levels of the district. 

 The things teachers spend their hard-earned money on can be a wide variety of items, but they are primarily standard school supplies.  

I don’t think anyone goes into a career expecting to pay their employer, but rather be paid by their employer.”

— Mrs. MxcNaul

Travis Martin, a science teacher at BAMS, said that since his class is inquiry-based and student-centered, many of the classroom experiments are the ideas of the students.   That means he is required to purchase materials with short notice.

“I may have my own new ideas for lessons or classroom set-up.  I cannot wait until next year to do so,” he said.

Often teacher’s dedication to creating new, inspiring lessons for students surpasses the budget restrictions of the district.  However, teachers at Bellwood are asked to not exceed their budget amount or to not order new things he needed. Items may only be purchased at the beginning of the calendar year during budget time. 

Mrs. McNaul said that she spends approximately $200 per year for her classroom supplies, like paint.

“I can’t order a surplus of materials because of inflation, so if we run out of white paint or some other material, I have to buy that myself because no materials can be ordered throughout the school year (only during budget time),” she said.  

When Mrs. McNaul first started at the district, she said that she paid about $500 a year until she built up necessary school supplies.  

“I don’t think anyone goes into a career expecting to pay their employer, but rather be paid by their employer,” stated Leah McNaul. 

However, it appears to be the all-too real reality of teachers trying to make the learning environment of their classroom better.

Another way that teachers try to improve the environment of the classroom is through decorations and better learning material.  Alison Stinson is a math teacher at BAHS, and she primarily spends her money to make her class a friendlier place. She typically spends a few hundred dollars a year mainly on decorations, and said since she feels adamant about creating a positive culture in the classroom she feels compelled to spend her own money to create the best learning environment possible for her students.

In addition to decorations, she has also spent money on apps that may enhance the instruction and understanding of her curriculum. 

Mrs. Stinson said that she understands the district could not provide for every need of the teacher, and that she feels very fortunate to be at BASD, where a lot of materials are supplied for the teachers, as opposed to places where they are not.

Teachers have the ability to “write off” up to $250 of their expenses on their taxes.  However, this does not completely cover the out-of-pocket expenses that teachers have.  

Dr. McInroy said that while it may seem that teachers are supplied with fewer materials now than years past, that is not the case.  Instead teachers now need fewer materials thanks to initiatives in technology.

“Currently the district is going through a change,  engaging in new technology and curriculum,” Dr. McInroy said. “This can create the perception of a lack of supplies teachers need to make up for. Since we are experiencing this change, it may appear that teachers have less when it’s really just a change.”

Bellwood-Antis does provide funding for a long list of supplies each year.  According to high school principal Mr. Richard Shreier’s budget, the high school alone school has allotted approximately $304,962 for school supplies.