MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- As most parents and teachers know school supplies can get expensive. The state of Florida implemented a program that could help subsidize those costs. But the program didn't get much support leaving teachers to dig into their own pockets.
"I spent money this year on timers for my students, scales for them, little baskets," said Manatee County teacher Amber Kukuk as she ran down the list of supplies needed for the school year. She says the process of buying class supplies is normal and that she's already spent more than $300 on items ranging from classroom decorations to items needed for lesson plans.
"It's a lot. I think the bulk of my money is spent on classroom books, other non fiction text, and things like that," added Kukuk.
But initiatives to help educators cover those cost are in the works. Governor Rick Scott pushed for a state-funded tax free debit card worth $250 for every teacher to spend on classroom supplies. But 60 of the 67 districts, including Manatee and Sarasota counties have declined to participate in the program. Many of those districts citing a delivery date after the first day of school as reason for opting out.
"I was a little disappointed that, we all were, that Manatee County school district decided not to because it is obviously more money and it is not taxed. It's not in our paycheck its a debit card that we can actually use the full some to go buy supplies," says Kukuk.
But educators not getting a debit card will still get their $250 for classroom supplies from the state. But that money will come through their paychecks or in a separate check from their school district and it will be taxed. In the mean time teacher like Kukuk say they will continue to buy supplies and the learning aids. And, that they are happy some reimbursements are on the way.
"Any time any day, the help we can get as teachers is appreciated," added Kukuk.
The first day of school in Sarasota and Manatee counties is Monday, August 19th.