PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The school year is kicking off for thousands of students across Arizona and parents are doing the back to school shopping.
Imagine if you had to buy supplies for several children, not just your own. That is what teachers end up doing every year, as school budgets shrink.
Buying new games, books, supplies and decorating classrooms to make a more stimulating learning environment and looking for sales -- because when it's your own money, you want the deals.
"these were $10 each, so I got four of them.. $40," said special education teacher Cindy Sander. She's doing what many other teachers are doing this time of year -- digging into her own pocket for supplies for her students.
'I got some water bottles and different color glitter and glue," said Sander.
According to the National School Supply Association, on average, teachers spend $500 of their own money every year to stock their classroom. Sander says she's sure it's more than that amount.
"Over time, my husband is just like, buy what you need. At first, he was like, come on, we're spending that much now. He just turns his head, laughs," she said.
Teachers often rally to help each other's dollars stretch further with school supplies by sharing sales and specials they come across. Sander can also turn to a parent to pitch in if needed.
With low teacher pay an issue in many districts, school budgets stretched thin, Sander says she views this as an investment in her students.
"These kids in my classroom are very important to me. I don't mind buying things for them if I know it will help them be successful in mastering a skill," she said.
Sander encourages parents to chip in where you can to help out and it doesn't have to always be dollars. Volunteer at your school -- it's more valuable than you think.
If you are willing to go in and help a teacher with copying or laminating papers or similar work, then that teacher can perhaps go home at 4:00 p.m. instead of 6:00 p.m. because you took that off of their to do list.
They get to spend more time with their families -- it's a win-win.
Reach out and call the school or the teacher to see what they need.