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Teachers paying out-of-pocket to get classrooms ready for first day of school

Last Updated Aug 29, 2019 at 12:52 pm PDT


Surrey teacher Angela Marcakis is spending the days before school starts shopping for supplies

Some school boards charge a flat-fee to all students while others provide families with a list of essentials

The BCTF has argued the province should fund these supplies

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — To make sure that students don’t go without back-to-school essentials, some teachers are using their own money to shop for supplies.

Angela Marcakis has spent $200 to make sure her classroom at Creekside Elementary in Surrey will be stocked with pens, paper and Duo-Tangs.

“I work in a more inner-city school. Sometimes kids don’t have those supplies, so I like to make sure I’m prepared so they’re not feeling left out,” she explains.

Marcakis says adapting to B.C.’s new curriculum — which began to roll out in 2016 — means she needs different supplies than she used to.

“For instance, with the new science curriculum,” she says. “I like to bring a lot of hands-on activities to my classroom so I’m just looking for those kinds of materials.”

RELATED: Vancouver Parents will pay more for school supplies in September

Surrey schools, like Creekside, provide a list of supplies to parents and students that can be ordered through the school or bought elsewhere.

Vancouver schools, by contrast, charge a fee to all parents, with provisions for the fee to be waived for families that can’t afford it.

At the end of the 2018-1019 school year, the BC Teachers’ Federation argued the province isn’t moving fast enough on fulfilling a promise to fund school supplies for all students.

Former President Glen Hansman said supplies cost up to a few hundred dollars a year for every family.

“While it’s been great to see lots of announcement around school construction and playgrounds, this is a winner for government,” he said. “If this is a required basic like paper and Duo-Tangs and binders, pencils, Kleenex – those things should be available for free for any student that comes through the door.”

RELATED: Teachers shouldn’t be stuck with bill for art supplies, snacks for students: advocate

Another back-to-school stressor for teachers like Marcakis this year is that mediated talks between teachers and the province have yet to result in a new deal.

With files from Alison Bailey