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Should Mehlville Teachers Pay Out of Pocket for School Expenses?

Statements by a Mehlville school board member and by a teacher in the district have drawn conversation on our site regarding teachers who have to spend their own money for school supplies. Should they be spending their own money?

Last week, at the end of the Mehlville school board meeting, board member Rich Franz about the roles of teachers that has drawn criticism ever since.

Franz, referring to teachers’ complaints that they are spending their own money for school supplies, said he challenged teachers to prove to him that the school district is not providing them with the resources to teach the basic curriculum.

“...this constant harping on this alleged idea that teachers have to take money out of their own pockets just to do their job and teach the basic curriculum I think is a lie that’s perpetrated on the taxpayers and I think it’s time that the taxpayers be treated to the truth and I think it’s time that the teachers either put up or shut up,” .

Franz’s comments drew criticism in both our website and Facebook page.

“I can assure you that I can present a receipt all I want for the things I need to support my students, but will never see a dime of it, Mr. Franz,” wrote one of our readers, who went by the name of Angela, in the comments section of the story. “You can't suck blood from a turnip. Until we really begin to value education and respect those who have dedicated their lives to it, we will never have the money!!! Like most educators I do it for the children, not the money. Also, my daughters attend Mehlville schools and I can assure you their teachers have spent out-of-pocket dollars with no reimbursement to provide them with more than the "basic" curriculum.”

Some, however, praised Franz for his determination.

“I agree with Mr Franz and applaud him for risking a backlash from the teacher-loving public,” wrote another reader going by the name of Teresa. “I work (12 months a year without spring or winter break - mind you) and bring my supplies with me to the office if they are not provided or if the company runs out. If it is costly, I submit a receipt for reimbursement. No big deal, everybody has extra expenses. The teachers need to get out in the real world, quit complaining about their job and concentrate on teaching.”

A teacher from even decided to write a in our publication to defend teachers’ commitment to teaching “beyond the curriculum.”

“Maybe if all the teachers just taught "the basic curriculum" and did not sponsor or coach outside activities and only worked the clock Rich and his followers would finally get what they pay for,” said Ed Taylor, who coaches the debate team at Oakville. “Teachers, what do you think? Nah, we won't.  We couldn't live with ourselves.”

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

What do you think about this issue? Should teachers have to spend their own money in order to go beyond the curriculum? Should they go beyond the curriculum at all? Should teachers be refunded in full by the district? Share your opinions with us in the comments section below.

Susan Mojeske June 26, 2012 at 01:23 PM
franz' attitude is the very reason i left teaching. from personal experience, and, watching my granddaughter go thru the mehlville school system i KNOW for a fact her teachers have spent their own $ to further their students' educations. Further more, we are deliberately moving from the district before school starts this year.
Linda June 26, 2012 at 02:03 PM
ALL teachers should NOT have to use their own money for their classrooms!!! They don't get paid enough and they are NOT appreciated enough! Come on everyone these are the people that are with your children everyday of most of the year! I myself find all the teachers at Point (where my grandchildren go are awesome!
Chief June 26, 2012 at 02:43 PM
If they are spending money out of pocket ... they only have to ask the PTO for supplies. It would be my contention that all supplies are covered, at least at Bernard last year. Thousands of dollars were raised to address this perception.
Stacy V. June 26, 2012 at 02:45 PM
As someone who is in the process of trying to decide whether to send my children to Mehlville schools or private schools when they are ready for kindergarten, Mr. Franz's comments raise an immediate red flag. How can I in good faith, send my kids to schools where it is the opinion of a school board member that our children are only worthy of a basic education rather than an exceptional education? How can I trust a system where it is acceptable for a school board member to disrespectfully lambast teachers for pointing out that they often have to spend their own money to provide a more than basic education for their students ("put up or shut up"-classy.) If this kind of attitude is present in the school board it is no wonder this is not a sought out school district like Parkway, Rockwood, or Kirkwood. Mr. Frank is right. The taxpayers should be treated to the truth. and the truth is if a school board does not value it's students to the point that it expects teachers to provide a more than basic education, there is a problem with the school board.
bridget filiput June 26, 2012 at 03:08 PM
The problem with Mr. Franz's comment is that he is only asking for the teachers to teach the basics. Both of my kids have attended the Mehlville schools since gradeschool, not because it is free education, but because I have always felt that the teachers have strived to have the kids perform above just the basics. So if you are only just teaching the basics, maybe they might have enough, but do we really just want our teachers to just teach the basics to our kids or do we want them to encourage our children to do better? Concerned Parent
Kristy June 26, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Franz is a joke. He blows a big wind that sounds mighty, but is nothing but hot air. His kind is exactly the type I don't want impacting my children's education. As for "Teresa," I submit that her option to submit her additional expenses for reimbursement be made an option for the teachers, too. But it doesn't happen and it won't. If Ms. Teresa has to provide the "basics" to do her job, maybe she, too, would have a clue what she's talking about. As it is, she needs to spend some time in a classroom and get a broader view of her so-called "real world."
kenn oneal June 26, 2012 at 08:35 PM
First of all, they are not my children. I do not like the idea in anyway shape are form that people keep saying that. What are the teachers buying? And it gets a little sick to my stomach when alot of your kids drive around in these 30,000 dollar, boom box cards disturbing everyone elses pease because there parents do not have pay a dime in tuition and they come to our country get hjelp from our goverment because they ran from their country because the law was after them for drugs are other crimes and they say they are being persecuted.My wife and I leaving this district soon for pease in Wyoming away from the crooked school districts, polititions, law enforsement etc, etc. I hope yopu teachers get you money reimbursed.
Margi Cook June 26, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I can't speak for the Mehlville teachers, however, I don't think most begrudge spending some money to better educate the students. The problem is the arrogance and stinky attitude of Mr. Franz. He obviously wants to pretend that teachers really don't have to do something that they absolutely do have to do if they want to do their job well.
Tom Diehl June 26, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Do the math. If a teacher spends an average of $2,000 per year on supplies, and you have twenty or more teachers, there is no way PTOs can cover the entire cost of supplies for their schools. Last year, Mr. Franz squawked about thousands of dollars being spent on supplies until I pointed out that it worked out to about $26 per teacher.
Gail June 27, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Stacy-- go with private schools. I send all three of mine to a private Catholic schools, they have a great education and plenty of supplies. that being said, we are Mehlville school district parents and being so, I wonder how many parents are helping these teachers out? I know there are some low income homes, but I also know there are homes with attorneys etc. They aren't paying for tuition or even transportation. Why not have every family pay a book fee or something to help these teachers??? Do taxpayers always have to bail out those that choose public school?
Mike Baker June 27, 2012 at 12:29 PM
I was wondering how long is was going to take for someone to bestow the virtues of sending your kids to a "private" Catholic school and have "taxpayers" bail out those that choose public. I assume you live in Oakville. Nice neighborhood? The value of your home, like many, probably isn't what it should be, but it's those public schools that help with maintaining that value, and builds up the neighborhoods...With that said, even those Catholic schools that provide that "great" education have their issues as well. Low enrollment, increasing tuition and so on...If you would have read the entire group of articles, the teachers are paying for supplies to "enhance" the learning experience from the "basic" supplies that are supplied by the district. Again, my wife is a teacher in Mehlville entering her 21st year. She buys these things because she doesn't want to just "teach out of a book". She wants her students to remember the lesson and enjoy what she is teaching. Would you rather sit and listen to a lecture, or be doing an activity that enhances it while you are learning? These teachers do not expect parents to "bail them out" by purchasing educational tools for thier classes. Would they ask for rolls of paper towels, boxes of kleenex hand sanitzer? Yes, just look at the WalMart / Target school lists prior to school starting and I am sure you will find your school list as well. They purchase these "extras" because they want to, not asking to be reimbursed.
Bob McKitrick June 27, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Public Education is a right that all U.S. Citizens enjoy. There are no bailouts, only civic responsibility.
Bryan Andrews. June 27, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Wow Gail and Kenn spoken like true patriots. If you really exist. Your comments sound like prescripted right wing trite. Public education is what it is is an opportunity for every one to have and education, every child so please if you have nothing nice to say don't say it. I happen to be a conservative who believes in public education. Franz is a joke he and others like him use words like bullies and thugs they talk about pubic pensions like they are ponzi scams. Franz receives a public pension so what's that make him?
Gail June 27, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I was not saying anything mean. I just brought up a valid point. Why not have families pay a book fee? And if they are low income, they would need to show their taxes and then the district can pay for it. I believe this is done for their meals at school too. How come books are different? Should taxpayers be paying for their school meals too? And what is basic education? Clearly a new tennis court and auditorium are way beyond basic....maybe that money should go towards paying for all the extras needed for learning in the classroom.
Ruth H. June 29, 2012 at 05:00 PM
And what would you suggest for those who cannot afford private school tuition? Children with special needs that private schools cannot accommodate? Non-Catholics and those who do not wish to defend/support Catholic leaders charged/convicted of child molestation? The Missouri Constitution guarantees FREE public education for ALL! How very Christian of you to judge who should receive these benefits. If you don’t like it, then change THAT law. It is appalling that this community does NOT support their teachers. These men and women are charged with educating your children and future workers who will support and serve your stingy arses in your old age. “Treat your children well…Teach your parents well, your children’s hell will slowly go by” – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Ruth H. June 29, 2012 at 05:14 PM
When your home doesn't sell for top dollar, you'll know who to blame. Mr. Franz is a disgrace to the district, a terrible example for children (how does this teach respect?) and a liability to all homeowners. Hope those who voted for him remember this when it comes time to sell.
Ruth H. June 29, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Your spelling and grammar skills only prove that we need to place more emphasis on education. Enjoy Wyoming!

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