Educators may be able to save a dollar or two in the near future. Senate Bill 1376, introduced by Florida State Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez (R-Doral), would provide an assistance program that would allow Florida teachers to be reimbursed for money spent on school supplies.
Taylor Brown, a teacher at Deerfield Beach Middle School, says she spends about $500 to $800 per term to stock her class with necessary supplies.
Brown says her school “only provides the bare minimum when requested,” and even then that only includes “paper, crayons, and masks, everything else feels like pulling teeth.”
Under the text of the bill, funds for each public or charter school in the district would be calculated by the Education Commissioner based on each school district’s proportionate share of the total unweighted FTE student enrollment of state and would be disbursed by July 15 under the condition that each teacher use the funds for classroom materials, supplies and equipment only for the students assigned to them. Teachers would be required to keep receipts for all purchases for at least four years and return any unspent funds to the district school board.
Doney Eden, a teacher at Godby High School, says this aid program would be particularly beneficial for him and his fellow educators who work in Title 1 schools.
“Title 1 schools lack a lot of resources and we don’t want our students to feel left out,” Eden said. “We just want our students to feel comfortable learning inside our classrooms with the materials we think are best suited.”
Eden says they get an allowance at the start of the school year. However, the $150 they receive barely covers classroom essentials such as masks, hand sanitizer, crayons and paper throughout the school year.
“Teachers barely earn enough to take care of themselves and their families,” Brown said. “So it’s really difficult to try to buy more materials for your classroom to ensure academic success for students.”
Although Eden hopes the bill will pass, he says he doesn’t mind paying for the materials out of pocket. But, he added, he wouldn’t mind the extra help.
A similar bill, HB 919, was introduced by Travaris McCurdy (D-Orlando) on December 15, two weeks before SB 1376 and had its first reading in the House on January 11.
SB 1376 was introduced in the Senate on January 18.