Help retain and attract teachers while creating district savings.

The struggle is real.

Shopping for school supplies is often as stressful for teachers as it is for families. Especially when district allocations don’t match the actual classroom needs. Because teachers are the loving, caring people that they are, they scurry around town on their own time to buy supplies with their own money, all for students to have the best experience possible.

But how fair is it to ask teachers to go above and beyond on yet another level? There is already a teacher shortage in nearly every district nationwide; why would anyone want to sign up to spend their own money just to do their job? And, let’s face it, there isn’t much wiggle room in a teacher’s paycheck for their own family extras, much less necessities for other people’s kids. This dilemma doesn’t exist in any other industry.

According to an August 2022 survey, the average public-school teacher spends $560 in supplies for their classroom. Nearly 20% spend more than $1,000 per year. On average, teachers receive $11 per student, but spend an additional $33 more per student. On top of this, 92% say they DO NOT get reimbursed.

Also, according to the survey, teachers are spending the most on essential items like books, curriculum, and software ($95); consumable supplies like paper, pencils and tissues ($78) and cleaning supplies/hand sanitizer ($47). Even some “non-essential” items like prizes and rewards ($92) can be considered essential, due to the current emphasis on social-emotional learning and positive behavior reinforcement. Student snack spending ($91) helps supplement students who are food insecure.

Not surprisingly, the 2022 Deloitte Back-to-School Survey indicated that buying school supplies online has increased 11% since 2019. In addition, next-day shipping and doorstep delivery have become priorities. And finally, smartphone ordering has eclipsed computer ordering as a convenience. Yet, teachers are still running around before and after school to fill in the gaps.

A perfect storm for a better solution

What are your instincts during a storm? To make it go away; to protect yourself and the people around you; to prevent the storm from coming back; to restore harmony.

While many districts choose to ride the storm year after year, praying their teachers will hang on for dear life, many are seeing that teachers are fed up with spending their time and money on their classrooms. Teachers are leaving and not coming back.

You can actually protect your teachers and staff from using their own time and resources and thus eliminate frustration and job dissatisfaction. You can also prevent rogue spending, thus saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasteful spending.

A marketplace is the solution.

The solution is called a marketplace. These customized online catalogs connect purchasing with district-wide contracts. Teachers can easily add best-price verified items to an Amazon (or another) cart from an easy-to-use platform, check out and in most cases get their supplies the next day.

And where will the money come from to supply teachers with their marketplace budgets? The money will come from the 20% (or more) savings you will realize by more effectively tying contracts and purchasing together. The savings will likely also fund the initial marketplace setup cost.

The marketplace solution is obviously a win-win. It is an attractive perk for teachers, as well as a money-saving tactic for your district. In addition, the marketplace eliminates the hassle of teachers filling out reimbursement forms and hours of back-office processing time. Time that could be much better spent serving students.

Happy teachers and staff, greater efficiencies, and significant overall savings make for a more harmonious district.

Teacher Spending Study

Deloitte Back to School Survey

About the Author: Tom Jackson

I love problem-solving. Seeing the joy when clients save hundreds of thousands of dollars that they can now use to fix a budget gap or invest in the classroom is what gets me out of bed every morning. I also love working from home with my steady assistant, Milo the dog.
By Published On: August 20th, 2022Categories: Best Practice Series, Efficiency, K-123.1 min read

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