A variety of school supplies that students in the Brandon School Division will be using when they return to classrooms on Sept. 3.
With the first day of school fast approaching, teachers are busy stocking their classrooms with supplies — some of which they’re choosing to purchase out of their own pockets.
Cheryl Battersby, a Betty Gibson School teacher, said this isn’t anything new — she’s always busy taking advantage of back-to-school sales on supplies this time of year.
"We all just do it out of the goodness of our own hearts because we love what we do and we love the kids," Battersby said. "I know the kids appreciate it."
She mainly stocks her kindergarten classroom with extra arts and crafts material, along with additional books and teaching resources.
"Some of these children are coming from homes where they don’t have the opportunity to do a lot of crafts," she said. "I do it because I love to see them participate in something they’ve never been able to do before."
However, the Brandon School Division does allocate a portion of its budget for classroom teaching resources. Every classroom is given a budget to work with, which varies depending on the school and grade level, according to school board chair Mark Sefton.
Sefton added some schools only spend their classroom budgets on teaching resources, such as textbooks, while others also purchase supplies such as pens and pencils.
"In some schools there is some allocation set aside for some pencils and so on, just because there are families that don’t have the resources to provide them," he said.
Sefton added if teachers want to purchase their own school supplies, it’s up to them. But he admits it’s an issue the division will have to look at in the near future.
"There is some advantage cost-wise to buying school supplies in bulk so that’s something I think we’re going to have to talk about for implementation possibly for next September," he said.
An emailed statement to the Sun on behalf of the Brandon School Division echoed Sefton, saying budgets for classroom recourses are "allocated at the school level."
"If teachers purchase classroom resources with personal funds, it is their choice."
For Riverview School teacher Marla Medwid, filling her Grade 1 classroom with extra supplies out-of-pocket is not only beneficial for students, but for her as well.
"It depends how you want your classroom to look," Medwid said, adding she spends roughly $500 to $800 annually on back-to-school supplies, of which the majority consists of teaching supplies and additional supplies for students. "Anything you want to take with you, you pay for yourself."
Another teacher said she only picks up the tab on extras and not items required to teach her students.
"It’s more of a personal desire," said Mary-Louise Davis, a Grade 6 École Harrison teacher. "These are the tools that would make my job easier, so I have no trouble spending money on them."
But for French immersion teachers, she said just being able to purchase basic supplies, such as books and textbooks can sometimes be a challenge.
"They’re harder to find and are generally more expensive."
Classes start up again for Brandon School Division students on Sept. 3.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 27, 2014