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"... Building a welcoming environment costs a lot of money." Back-to-school shopping adds pressure to teachers

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PARIS, Ill. (WTHI)- Heading back to school costs a lot more for parents this year thanks to inflation. But the current state of the economy is affecting teachers.

Katie Urick is a Kindergarten Special Education teacher at Memorial Elementary in Paris, Illinois. It's her third year teaching and she loves her students.

"My favorite part about teaching kindergarten is how sill they are," she said. "And the relationships you can build with them."

But, what she doesn't love is the cost of building her classroom. Urick said she often finds herself purchasing several items at the beginning of every school year.

"We have to buy extra school supplies, books," Urick said. "In Kindergarten, we have toys in our classroom.. furniture. If you want flexible seating in your classroom, we have to buy that.

Urick said this typically costs her $400 a year. She said some of her fellow teachers have spent up to $2,000 on their classrooms. All of that is coming straight out of their pockets.

Keith Gambill is the president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. He said this is a common occurrence for teachers. He said this puts even more pressure on teachers.

"When the increases in pay are becoming tight," he said. "And inflation has occurred as it has occurred, when you add that together that means our educators are falling farther behind."

Gambill said this pressure is why the association is pushing for fully funded schools. He said this would allow a teacher's salary to go towards their personal lives rather than their school ones.

But until that happens, teachers are banning together to help each other. Gambill said ISTA offers a program called resupply where retired teachers can offer materials to younger teachers.

Urick said she was able to receive some similar help through her school district. But, she hopes there will be more help to lighten her and other teachers' loads.

She said parents simply buying the items on a school supply list can be a monumental help. While spending an extra $400 may be a lot to spend for your work, Urick said it's simply just a part of the job.

"I think a really important part of teaching is building your classroom room environment," she said. "Building a welcoming environment definitely costs a lot of money."

Multimedia Journalist/Producer

Caitlin is a multimedia journalist/producer for WTHI-TV. Have a story tip or idea? Contact her! Email:

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