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Owner of Teachers’ Supply Store Weighs in on Out of Pocket Expenditures

The Teachers’ Lounge in South County serves teachers from different school districts throughout the area. Scott Gurley, owner of the store, said teachers spend hundreds of dollars a year on supplies for their own classrooms.

Scott Gurley, owner of , a teacher supply store, said that ever since he opened his store in 2007 he has seen teachers spend an average of $500 - $1000 a year on school supplies.

“I am certain most of that comes from their own pocket,” Gurley said.

Gurley, an Oakville resident, reached out to Patch shortly after discussion started on our site regarding , who said teachers having to pay for their own supplies in order to do their job was “a lie that’s perpetrated on the taxpayers.”

“I think he’s a little out of touch with his teachers,” Gurley said. “They (teachers) are not coming here to buy toys for their own home. What they are buying are things teachers need.”

Gurley, whose store is located off of Lindbergh in South County, said most of his customers come from the Mehlville, Lindbergh and Fox C-6 school districts. He explained that most of his customers are teachers in preschool through sixth grade who come in to buy materials to enhance the classroom.

“A lot of administrators probably think it’s just decoration,” said Gurley, whose wife, Laura was a teacher for five years. “But these are educational materials that enhance the learning experience.”

Gurley’s store belongs to the National School Supply & Equipment Association, a national group which, among other duties, publishes a report on teachers’ spending on supplies.

The report divides teacher spending into two areas: school supplies and instructional materials.

School supplies, according to the report, are basic items such as glue, paint, paper and pencils, for example.

Instructional materials are items such as workbooks, educational software and games, among others.

According to the 2009-2010 national report, on average, teachers spend a total of $398 on school supplies. On instructional materials, teachers spend $538 for total average of $936 a year.

Gurley says he knows many teachers get only about $100 a year for their supplies.

“That doesn’t even make a dent on their expenditures,” Gurley said.

Gurley said that whether teachers get refunded for their money or not, they are always going to spend more on their students because they care about them.

He said that even if they don’t get all the money they need for supplies from the school, they should still ask for it.

“They may not get it, but they should still ask for it,” Gurley said.

Gurley said teachers should show administrators what a classroom would look like without their personal investment.

"The teachers should ask the administrators to look at the undecorated,
sterile classrooms this summer and ask them, 'Does it look like a healthy,
inviting learning environment?' Then, in August, once all their learning
materials are in place, they should show them their classrooms and say,
'Doesn't this look like a better learning environment for our children?'" Gurley said. 

Rich Franz did not return calls or emails seeking comment as of Tuesday night. 

*Added July 3: See a video of the meeting; Franz's speech at 16 minutes.

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Kathleen Eardley June 27, 2012 at 04:04 PM
As a member of the school board I too understand that teachers spend quite a bit of their own money on their classrooms. I have stood in line for supplies in the teacher's lounge and watched plenty of teacher's spend hundreds of dollars on supplies to enhance their classrooms. I have done so myself back when I taught. One board member's opinion does not reflect the group as a whole, nor does it reflect the reality of what actually goes on in classrooms. Teachers deserve a round of applause and thanks for all they do on their own time and money for our kids!
Bryan Andrews. June 27, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Thank you Kathleen very well put I look forward to combined progress from the board. This one person has an agenda on his own. I believe a teachers job is to educate and keep my child safe. My job as a parent is to make sure my child understands and behaves. I take this very serious I don't political games with teachers. You are the voice between the community and the teachers. I hold the board responsible to make fair fiscal choices and to not kick the teachers around like the enemy don't ever stand on my tax dollars and tell me I'm waisting my money stand next to me and we will educate these children.
Ruth H. June 29, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Hmmm...does your brother/campaign manager share your views? I remember his nasty comments to NEA on your election day. Mehlville has no record of you being a student teacher and none of the district teachers remember you either. Good to see that you are sticking up for teachers.
Laura Kadlec June 29, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Thank you to Mr. Gurley for adding your perspective to this story. Thank you, Kathleen for your kind words. Twenty-three years later, I still love going to the Teacher Store!!
Cheri Nickolaus July 01, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Ditto to Mr. Gurley for standing up to the negative comments given by some school board members at some school districts across this wonderful country.The taxpayers don't understand what the schools can and can't afford. Nowhere on our budget does it say $ for bullentin board decorations, incentive notes/stickers, word wall ideas/displays, let alone necessary schools supplies for the large amount of students in our classrooms with none. I am not sure we would complain but if you are going to say it doesn't happen perhaps you should resign or get in touch with your teachers. Again Kuddo's to the board members that find honest areas of concern, and Mr. Gurley for stepping up and calling it like it is, untruthfull.

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