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31 teachers across the US reveal their exact salary, and how much of it goes to paying for school supplies

Allana Akhtar

Aug 26, 2019

31 teachers from 19 different states revealed to Business Insider how much of their salary they spend on school supplies.

Some teachers spend thousands of dollars a year on their classrooms.

Salaries for teachers vary. One Mississippi teacher makes $35,000 a year. A teacher from Massachusetts with over 30 years of experience reports an $80,000 annual salary.

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Due to dwindling public-education funding, public-school teachers sometimes shell out hundreds of dollars for classroom chalk and pencils out of their own pocket.

A dozen states spend less on schools than before the 2008 recession, according to a 2019 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Teachers earn less in 42 states than they did a decade ago.

Read more: Teachers in the US are spending $500 of their own money on school supplies like crayons and chalk, and now they’re turning to a viral hashtag to ask strangers for help

Many public school teachers have taken to social media to ask for help paying their classroom supplies. The viral #clearthelists campaign began last month after teachers asked strangers and celebrities to buy supplies off their Amazon wish lists. Many of these lists include classroom basics like chalk, crayons, and markers.

Business Insider spoke with 31 public-school educators across the country to find out how much of their salary is being spent on school supplies. We asked them to answer the questions, “How much do you make? Do you spend any money on school supplies? If so, how much?”

While the federal government reports that teachers spend an average of $500 on school supplies, some teachers told us they spend as much as $1,000.

Teachers working in public schools in 19 states were included in this list. Some teachers chose to answer anonymously or just use their first name. Business Insider verified all identities with school badges and emails.

These are the responses 31 teachers gave to the survey question “How much do you make?”

[Editor’s note: Some of the responses have been lightly edited for clarity.]

“I make $68,000 a year and I spent at least $500 to $1000 on supplies.”

— A middle school teacher in New York who wished to remain anonymous

“$38,000/year. Yes, about $200 of my own money each year, but I could spend much more.”

— Vanessa, an elementary school teacher in Florida

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“I make $55,000 a year right now and get about a 2% raise per year. I have 9 years of experience with a master’s degree in educational leadership. I do not spend my own money on school supplies. I am lucky enough to have a departmental budget for those things.”

— A high school teacher in Ohio who wished to remain anonymous

“$42,000 a year. I used to spend my own money on supplies but I can’t afford to any more.”

— Kimberly, a high school teacher in Florida

“$58,000. Of course. $1,000 a year.”

— A high school teacher in Ohio who wished to remain anonymous

“I make $56,000. I spend thousands on school supplies and lessons because I am not provided with a meaningful curriculum for my students and their abilities.”

— A middle school teacher in Maryland who wished to remain anonymous

“$53,000 after 10 years of teaching. I couldn’t tell you an exact number of how much I spend on supplies, but it’s hundreds every year.”

— A high school teacher in Illinois who wished to remain anonymous

© Associated Press

“Before taxes, I made $35,000 annually (with an MA and 2 years’ experience) in the state of New Mexico. After taxes, I took home $1,900 a month. I spend anywhere from $30 to $100 a month on supplies.”

— Jennifer, an elementary school teacher in New Mexico

“$76,000. I spend about $1,500. My district gives me $100.”

— Andrea, a middle school teacher in New Jersey

“I make $35,000 a year. Last year, I likely spent $1,000 to $2,000 of that on supplies.”

— A high school teacher in Mississippi who wished to remain anonymous

“$60,000-plus. Average $500 per year, maybe more if you add in the snacks I give out all the time.”

— A middle school teacher in Connecticut who wished to remain anonymous

“I make $48,000. I spend my own money on my classroom decor, around $200 per year.”

— Melinda, a high school teacher in Illinois

“My salary is $99,000 over 12 months with 20-plus years of experience. Yes, I spend upwards of $500 per year on school supplies.”

— Brett, a high school teacher in California

© Thomas Lohnes / Getty Images

“$52,000 and I spend $1,000 a year on supplies.”

— A kindergarten teacher in Ohio who wished to remain anonymous

“$53,000. How much I spend varies each year, but it’s about $300 to $400.”

— An elementary school teacher in Texas who wished to remain anonymous

“About $70,000, and I spend probably $2,000 a year on school supplies.”

— John, a junior high school teacher in Pennsylvania

“$73,000 a year, and I spend about $500 to $1,000 a year to get supplies for my classroom.”

— An elementary school teacher in Kentucky who wished to remain anonymous

“I have 7 years of experience and a master’s degree, and I make $45,000 before NY taxes get taken out. I am an art teacher and spend between $200 and $700 on supplies and food for students each year out of pocket. I also have crushing student-loan debt that forces me to live paycheck to paycheck and makes it impossible to get a loan for anything.”

— A high school teacher in New York who wished to remain anonymous

“$55,000 and $500 probably. Not on consumables but on materials and equipment that I would take with me if I left.”

— Leigh, a high school teacher in Maryland

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“$43,000, and of course I do.”

— A middle school teacher in Tennessee who wished to remain anonymous

“$75,000 a year after 20 years in one of the most expensive parts of the country to live in. I spend less of my own money than many, but I just spent about $300 to get the year started.”

— A high school teacher in California who wished to remain anonymous

“After almost 20 years, I make $67,000. I have a master’s degree in education. A few hundred dollars a year on supplies.”

— An elementary school teacher in Illinois who wished to remain anonymous

“I make $61,000. I buy some school supplies, like tissues and hand sanitizer. I also bring in breakfast and other treats occasionally. I probably spend $100 per year on the students.”

— A high school teacher in Illinois who wished to remain anonymous

© Associated Press

“I spent close to $500 on things for my classroom this year.”

— A high school teacher in Texas who wished to remain anonymous

“I make $65,000 and spend more money on school supplies than my husband is aware of, which is about $500 a year.”

— Dianna, an elementary school teacher in Nebraska

“I believe it will be $27,000, and I spent about $300 or so.”

— A high school teacher in Indiana who wished to remain anonymous

“$65,000. All the time. I want to say I average $300/year, but it’s probably more. I spent way more this year because I bought flexible seating items.”

— A middle school teacher in Pennsylvania who wished to remain anonymous

© Associated Press

“I make enough to live comfortably, and half of it goes back to school and student reinforcements.”

— Alfina, a special-education teacher in Colorado

“$80,000-plus (with a master’s and 31 years of experience); I spend about $1,000 out of pocket each year for my classroom.”

— Lisa, an elementary school teacher in Massachusetts

“I make $65,000 per year. I typically spend anywhere from $200 to $800 dollars on school supplies and materials for my classroom. In years past, I have spent significantly more.”

— Uriah, a middle school teacher in New Jersey

“When the school year starts again I’ll be making $40,000 a year. I spend about a thousand dollars a year on supplies. That includes new books, prizes for games, comfortable seating, etc.”

— Morgan, a middle school teacher in South Carolina

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