The impact funding has on school expenses

When it comes to school expenses, an institution has to rely on the set funding they receive. Students who live in low-income areas are not given the same resources and opportunities as those who live in wealthier school districts.

Produced by: Brielle Toff
Edited by: Sydney Lynch

A look into the clasroom:

Created by: Alliyah Maduro

Who's funding classroom supplies?

While providing the best learning environment for students, every teacher needs specific materials to enhance the nature of their classroom. These materials can range from books, art supplies or learning-based decorations for the classroom. 94 percent of public school teachers in the United States use their own money to buy necessary supplies for their classrooms, according to a study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. With an average spending of $459 every year, a teacher is often not reimbursed for their out of pocket purchases.

Teachers that work in a higher-poverty area pay more money for classroom supplies than a teacher in a lower-poverty area. On average, teachers in higher-poverty areas pay $523 out of pocket, while lower-poverty area teachers pay about $434 out-of-pocket every year.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows educators to deduct up to $250 of their out-of-pocket spending from their taxes. Teachers must meet specific qualifications to allow this tax deduction including; being a teacher or working in a school with students kindergarten through 12th grade, complete 900 hours of work during a school year and be employed by a school that provides elementary or secondary education based on the requirement of state law.

The Educator Expense deduction includes out of pocket spending for physical classroom supplies, as well as professional development programs for teachers and technology software and equipment.

The average salary of a teacher in the United States is approximately $60,000. Limited financial resources can urge teachers to create fundraising programs, reach out to churches, the community and create online donation campaigns that will increase their funds for classroom necessities. Teachers make personal financial sacrifices each year to provide supplies to their students. Over ten years, a teacher is spending over $4,500 in supplies for their classrooms.

Within the United States, 22 states are being funded less by the states than they were before the recession of 2008. Each state uses a funding formula to allocate the funds from the federal government, state and local government to determine the cost of supporting each student. Funding cuts impact a student’s quality of education based on the disinvestment of education. The lack of basic supplies impacts a student’s performance, while lack of funding impacts the salary of the teacher. 

Having adequate supplies creates an equitable classroom while increasing the class preparedness and interest in learning. According to the Kids in Need Foundation, pencils, dry erase markers and notebooks are the three most frequently requested supplies teachers need in their classrooms.

Written by: Sydney Lynch

A school building's impact on education

The structure and design of a school is a key step in a student’s learning experience that gets overlooked by many. A school’s physical walls dictate what goes on inside of them. If a school does not have up to date standards of a safe classroom or facility, then it makes learning for a child harmful and dangerous. A school building can separate a student from their home situation because oftentimes, they go to school for an escape from their life at home. In some schools around the country, it is estimated that almost fifty percent of third graders experience maltreatment in some capacity. If a school is not up to par with health regulations, then the child has no escape from the abuse or trauma at home.  

Student Health

A student’s health is the number one priority when in school. In the Philadelphia School District there are at least seven schools with an asbestos issue, which could be very harmful to students, teachers, and any faculty member in the school. “The Philadelphia School District has become the epicenter of the national issue of toxic asbestos in U.S. schools.” In the past year, eleven schools in the district have closed due to the asbestos. The school district will spend $14 million to address the asbestos issue. 

I remember learning during a Master's class on policy is that we excuse me as a district we do not have enough money. I think they give us a few billion. I think it takes over $4 billion a day to function like don't quote me, but I'm pretty sure that's correct. So I guess I'm answer that question with a question or a statement if the district or if the state slash district provided students with enough funding or if there was enough funding vested in students to assure that they obtain an equitable education, we wouldn't have issues like asbestos, we wouldn't have issues where schools are collapsing and having to merge two schools in one. We wouldn't have climate control issues in the district or in inner city schools as a whole. I think on a macro scale. Education is not America's number one priority,” Brittni Jennings, African American history teacher at Constitution High School, said.

School Infrastrcuture

A school’s design and infrastructure is a direct correlation with a student’s learning experience and achievement. There is evidence that connects a student’s achievement in school with the quality of the school’s foundation and structure. There are a lot of studies that connect a student’s outcome based on the quality of the school’s facility. A school with a good structure and foundation has a positive impact on a student’s grades. Student learning is halted when a school has a poorly built area for them to learn in and experience a school day. It gives a bad message to the students and teachers because they can not be the best version of themselves with a poorly modeled school supporting them.

There is research that supports a 5-17 percentile point difference between the achievement of students in poorly supported buildings compared to students in well-established buildings. Why the surrounding facility of a school is vital to a student’s ability to learn, has a deeper meaning than just a school building. A school’s ability to create new editions to their building, to keep students intrigued with their learning also deals with the ability to fund a project like that. These all intertwine with each other, and all have an impact on the student’s ability to learn. 

The environment a well-built school implements for students is key towards their success and learning. It also impacts how a school is run and funded, everything is based around the foundation and structure of the school. It is difficult to learn in a poorly built classroom for 6 hours a day, and the entire school is impacted by how the school is built. Without a solid background of facilities, a school can not function properly. The restructuring of schools is a part of education equity because it is beneficial to their learning environment. This restructure demands the ways schools are operated and organized.

Written by: James Kelly

The digital divide

In the era of digital technology, students are facing a majority of their schooling through online learning resources. About 70 percent of teachers in America assign homework online. The world is among a digital shift and to keep up, students are expected to have access to the internet 24/7. But what about the one thirds of households who make less than 30,000 a year and lack internet at home? How are schools making sure students are able to complete homework online when their home life is not compatible with digital advancement. This creates not only a huge gap in homework completion but also a greater achievement gap where digital skills are important to be successful in today's economy. 

The digital divide is the reason behind these gaps in homework and achievement. In the U.S. education system, this issue separates high and low income families because of the lack of access to digital resources. 

According to, the “digital divide” is the gap between people who have sufficient knowledge of and access to technology and those who do not—can perpetuate and even worsen socioeconomic and other disparities for already underserved groups. What this looks like in the United States education system is through: 

  • Lack of performance and potential to advance education
  • Competitive outcomes in the classroom
  • Another inconvenience/obstacle in learning for those who can’t access it
  • Delays in society functioning and advancements at a fair level 

It is clear that this separation causes low income families to stay disadvantaged. Recently, schools have been closing for the remainder of the school year due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, also known as CoronaVirus. The virus has shifted schools completely into online learning and have expected children of all demographic backgrounds to adjust quickly. This is also a time where many families are losing their jobs or working less hours because of the lack of consumer spending while in quarantine which means there is even less income in the households for some. 

This is a situation where well-funded schools and schools in lower income areas do not have the same opportunity for the transition to virtual education. Schools have a duty to children to accommodate them for this shift, but it is very transparent when schools do not have the funds to support thousands of students of all backgrounds. Schools are digitally responsible for knowing that students without access to the internet at home during this time will be behind in their studies. 

Solutions that schools are seeking are paying for hotspots in student home areas, and loaning out laptops to work from home. Not all schools have the luxury of digital distribution. 

Solutions for the digital divide in U.S. education would be:

  • Expanding access at school and preparing for times when students won't have access 
  • Increase affordability for parents with low income
  • Adjusting resources and assignments and making sure what’s learning online is effective for every child 

Written by: Grey Stephens

Maduro Homework Gap V5

Created by: Alliyah Maduro

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