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SF Teacher Supply Budget May Be Cut

April 15, 2009, 4:47 PM by Katie Janssen

SF Teacher Supply Budget May Be Cut
South Dakota's largest school district is making cuts, and teachers and students may have to go without some classroom materials because of it.

The Sioux Falls district is scaling back its elementary and high school supply budget by nearly $200,000. That's only a small percent of the total budget, but teachers say it's still a significant hit especially when you consider many already pay for supplies out of their own pockets.

Preschool teacher Amber Marsh is about to begin a unit on the solar system, so she came to Teacher's Helper in Sioux Falls for new materials.

"Be creative with what we have so you don't have to spend as much, but there are some things that you're like, 'We ran out of this, we need some of that, it'd be really nice to have,'” Marsh said.

Marsh can get what she needs and turn in the receipts, but like many teachers, she sometimes ends up spending some of her own money on supplies. Teacher's Helper sees many customers like Marsh and actually tracks what some are spending.

"They spend an average $200 per teacher, and that's just in our store. We know they spend outside of here as well," owner Kathy Champoux said.

As former teacher herself, Champoux knows how the right supplies can help children learn.

"The classroom budget helps to do that.  It provides all the decorations and fun things, but it also provides manipulatives that help them learn abstract concepts that otherwise they couldn't do," Champoux said.

Champoux says even a small decrease in the supply budget can be like a pay cut for teachers, and it's important to remember who's impacted in the end.

"The bottom line is, when you're looking at cuts, are we cutting the education we're providing for the children? That's what needs to be looked at," said Champoux.

If the cuts become official, high school students' allocations go from $180 per student to about $160, and elementary school allocations will go from $125 to $118 per student.

The Sioux Falls School District says students won't even notice a change from these cuts, which have been preliminarily approved by the school board.

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