Sunday, August 06, 2006

100 dollar "gift" cards for Georgia teachers

This year, Governor Sonny Perdue budget included 10 million dollars for each teacher to receive a 100 dollar gift card to purchase classroom supplies. The money is to be used during the tax free holidays of August 3-6. On August 3, I went to the local Walmart to purchase supplies. I knew, being in a small town that teachers would be on the store like locusts on a field. Purchases included glue, markers, card stock, crayons, staple remover, laminating contact paper, and craft supplies (pompoms, craft glue, foam sheets). Total came to approximately 95 dollars. I had left my list at home so I knew there were items I had forgotten and figured that I would pick up the items, use the balance of the card and then pay the rest out of my pocket.
The forgotten list included a kitchen timer, which I need to use while assessing students, paper plates, and coffee filters (for projects in the classroom). Preschool classrooms have all kinds of odds and ends in their room to use for art projects for little hands to create using fine motor skills and their imagination.
So, when I went to the checkout register, I separated those items from my personal purchases. I knew it would be over the balance of my card, but wanted to use up what was there. Well, it denied me - was it because I wanted to purchase items that might not be thought to use in the classroom?
I thought I was being a good steward of the money I was issued. Sure, I could have purchased more expensive items that are deemed school supplies and it would have gone through as a purchase (not that I had a lot of money left on the card).
It's the tip of the iceberg of what teachers spend in their classroom each year. I love the idea of a gift card - I think a better idea is to issue us the money we are allocated during the year, and allow us to purchase items as we need them and see them. There are many times I see a book or an item that can be used in the classroom throughout the year which have been reduced - Each and every month, teachers need supplies that come up that are not anticipated in long range planning. It may be because of an idea that arose during planning for next week's lesson. Well, can't really do a purchase order - that will take weeks before the item arrives, if it is approved and there is money in the budget.
It's not an election year next year, so it will be interesting to see if teachers get the 100 dollar allocation. Of course, it's interesting they call it a gift card. I bet their state allocated Visa is not labeled a "gift card".
Yes, we will have more money to operate our classroom - it varies from year to year. From now on, we will have to purchase the supplies and materials the more conventional way - through purchase order or out of our pockets. Much will come out of the pockets of teachers.

Teachers, how much do you spend of your own in the classroom?


Carolanne said...

Our classroom has a budget issued by the business manager (bursar). Because our campus is still "newish", he tends to let us buy whatever we think we need or at least, I've never busted the budget.
However, my colleague and I do seem to spend quite a bit out of our own pockets but that's our choice.

trek said...

That's goofy. I agree: there are all kinds of things that work for kiddie crafts that look like they aren't (pasta necklace anyone?).

revabi said...

That's goofy too, but then again that's GA. Where did the money come from for it, the lottery money,or have they already apportioned that for something else entirely.

No gift cards here or VISA's for the teachers, the students buy it for them off their school supply list. Had to buy a lot more in Wadley than here in Florence though.

The idea does sound great to the voters doen't it. They just don't know. Sigh.

Hope it is a good year for you as a teacher.