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Proposed bill would increase teacher's budget for classroom supplies

Posted at 4:39 AM, Jan 16, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For Nashville fifth grade teacher Brandon McGill, his job isn't just about teaching - it's about making sure his students have what they need to learn. "I think the most important thing is equity and allowing a level playing field," he said.

Often that means McGill, and teachers like him, will dip into his own wallet to make it happen.

"It's a pretty frequent thing especially when you really care about the kids that you serve," said McGill.

Tennessee public and charter school teachers in grades K through 12 are currently given $200 a year to spend on classroom supplies. For McGill, the money goes fast. "Within the first week of school," he said.

"Teachers are also spending money not just on the classroom supplies, but on basic needs for kids," said President and CEO of the Nashville Public Education Foundation, Katie Cour. "Sometimes a child might come to school without a backpack or in need of hygiene products or food items."

But a new proposed bill heading to the state legislature would increase that allotment to $500.

The last time that allotment was increased was back in 2017.

Cour said, "so for the last five years obviously we've seen enormous inflation, we have seen prices go up across the board in every category and school supplies and education supplies are no different."

For Cour it's a sign of support for a profession that's recently been at odds with lawmakers and politicians. "And we hope that this'll be a path in the right direction to rebuild the trust that has eroded policymakers and teachers."

While the money may not go far enough, for many teachers it's an improvement.