One aspect of teaching a lot of non-teachers don't consider is that countless educators must use their own funds to assure their classrooms, and thus their students, have the supplies they need for daily activities. That includes pens, pencils. erasers, scissors, construction paper, and more.

A new bill that's gaining traction in the Iowa Senate could mitigate some of that financial stress by offering teachers a monetary stipend they could use to keep their classrooms stocked. The developments have been promising thus far, but as we know, few things are a guarantee when it comes to bills and new laws coming to fruition.

On Monday, January 22nd, 2024, a three-member subcommittee in the Senate advanced Senate File 2009. This bill would provide each new teacher with a $500 spending account to be used to purchase classroom supplies while other teachers would receive a fund of $200 to use on supplies, per MSN.

Senator Kerry Gruenhagen, a Republican of Walcott, is the bill's sponsor and commented on the urgency of the potential legislation:

This topic has long been asked for by teachers to help support them setting up their classroom at the beginning of each school year so they can provide that learning environment that works for their students. Currently they’re using their own funds, and this is an attempt to set up a funding stream to assist them with that endeavor. - Senator Kerry Gruenhagen, per MSN

Photo Credit: didecs
Photo Credit: didecs
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The bill would not authorize any new money to furnish the spending accounts. Instead, the money would be pulled from existing Iowa aid that's provided to K-12 schools.

The total cost of the bill would be about $8 million, a Legislative Services Agency staffer predicted. The bill has seen some opposition, notably from Senator Sarah Trone Garriott, a Democrat from West Des Moines, who did not vote to advance the bill:

Teachers need supplies. Teachers need to be paid more. We’re not going to accomplish that by just moving the same money around - Senator Sarah Trone Garriott, per MSN

Photo Credit: tanuha2001
Photo Credit: tanuha2001
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To Trone Garriott's point, an additional component of the bill would direct any unspent money from the accounts be returned to the school district to be used to raise teachers salaries. But Trone Garriott says that move would put teachers in a compromising position:

With such a significant budget, why couldn’t we do an $8 million appropriation to show that we really care about the issue and we want to help in a way that is going to make it possible for school districts to give that support? - Senator Sarah Trone Garriott, per MSN

Meanwhile, Senator Lynn Evans, a Republican in Aurelia and a former superintendent, agrees with the principle of the bill, and that teachers need more financial support in the classroom, but wants to see the bill developed further:

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Schools are going to budget differently based on their schools’ needs, their student needs and their student expectations. This attempts to mandate how they’re going to develop their budget. - Senator Lynn Evans, per MSN

Read more about the bill that could give Iowa teachers a monetary stipend for school supplies on MSN's website as well as The Des Moines Register's website.

Photos: Effigy Mounds National Monument - Harpers Ferry

Gallery Credit: Tom Ehlers

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