NJ teachers spend $470 of their own money on supplies every year


The average New Jersey teacher spends more than $470 of their own money on an annual basis to provide enough supplies for their classes, according to a state-by-state analysis of school and staff surveys.

The average total is $471.74 without reimbursement in New Jersey, according to the report. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 94% of K-12 teachers spend some of their own money on supplies without being reimbursed.

“Most people are used to picking up a pen or something from the office and taking it home. A teacher is just the opposite,” said Sean Spiller, president of the New Jersey Education Association.

Teachers aren’t completely left to their own devices by their districts, Spiller noted. But some supplies only last for a while. The average teacher in California and Michigan spends more than $700 a year on supplies, according to surveys.

Throughout the school year, there are several New Jersey Teacher Campaign pages on the Donors Choose site, which was created specifically to help teachers raise the funds they need to properly educate their students.

But, Spiller said, often the educators who need it the most teach in communities where families struggle to provide their own resources for children at home.

“As educators, we need to make sure every child has the best chance to learn. Often that means going into our own pockets,” Spiller said. “It’s frustrating. At the same time, it’s an example of the dedication of our educators.”

In many districts, according to earlier comments from the New Jersey School Boards Association, teachers request specific items from school administrators, with a set amount they can “spend,” and then the supplies are provided to the teacher. It is common, according to the association, for teachers to spend some of their own money on supplies.

Teachers can take advantage of the educator expense deduction available on federal tax returns, the association said. This allows eligible educators to deduct up to $250 for related materials.

US senators from New Jersey are among a list of federal lawmakers behind legislation that would quadruple the allowable deduction to $1,000 for teachers.

“With a simple change to the tax code, we can ensure that our educators receive some of the hard-earned money they spend during tax season,” said Sen. Cory Booker.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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