NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nikki Hendricks-Bolling teaches fifth-grade reading. She tries to make it entertaining with the help of technology.
"In fact, I am about to purchase about 40 pairs of headphones because I want to make sure that I can provide these high-tech experiences, but I also want to be respectful that the noise from one laptop doesn't impede the learning for someone else," said Hendricks-Bolling.
Often that means spending her own money.
"So, I would say I'm probably closer to maybe the $500-$600 mark a year, but there was a time where I easily spent $1,200," said Hendricks-Bolling.
One survey found teachers are spending more on classroom supplies than ever before. According to the data, teachers spent an average of $750 on school supplies out of pocket during the 2020-2021 school year.
"The posters on the wall, the carpets on the floor, the mats — that personalization for each student is likely being supplemented or purchased directly from the teacher," said Vice President of Policy and Programming at the Nashville Public Education Foundation Jennifer Hill.
But the IRS is providing teachers some relief: it's raising the limit on what teachers can deduct for out-of-pocket expenses when they file their federal income tax return, from $250 to $300. It's the first increase since 2002.
"It is necessary, but not [a] sufficient amount of money for what our teachers pour into our classrooms and into their students,"
Many school districts also provide stipends, but those don't cover things like computer programs or snacks for students.
"As a mother, as a wife, as someone that needs to also provide for my family, to be torn between providing for my family and doing what's best for students in the classroom — it just would be lovely to have, I don't know, maybe $500 is a good round number to start at?"
She said her school community is generous, but others struggle to help teachers fill the gaps.
"When a student knows that 'when I go to school, even if I don't have it, even if I've forgotten it, that my teacher is going to have those supplies to take care of me' — it really makes a difference," said Hendricks-Bolling.