In the Classroom, Out of Pocket: The Surveys

In the Classroom, Out of Pocket: The Surveys

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – One Carolina Forest High School teacher wrote, "My dream would be for me to start every block, every day, by feeding my students."

It's one of 119 responses to the question, "What would you do with more money for your classroom?" It wasn't the only response about hungry students.

Horry County School Teacher:

I buy snacks for children who do not bring one (that's about 6-10 children a day).

Myrtle Beach Primary Teacher:

I pay for student lunch bills.

Horry County School Teacher:

I have seen students cry because their stomachs hurt from hunger. At that point, if we are out of snacks, I use my own lunch and snacks for them.

WMBF News took responses like this to the superintendent of Horry County Schools.

"The most important thing is to let someone know so that that support can be made available," said Dr. Rick Maxey. "As far as meals during the day, we do have free and reduced lunches for children whose families are eligible."

Maxey said he doesn't want to see any child in his district go without, but he made the point several times that the district can't solve problems it doesn't know about.

"We would not want our teachers assuming that burden of any of our students by themselves and help can be made available," he said.

Teachers didn't only respond about food.

Briggs Elementary School Teacher:

I would LOVE to be able to rip up the carpets and replace them.

It's a complaint Florence School District 1's superintendent has heard before.

"She's absolutely correct," said Dr. Randy Bridges. "I don't even want to get into the conversation about carpet."

That wasn't the end of her post.

Briggs Elementary School Teacher:

I would also replace the heating and cooling system and better insulate the mobile. It's just not a healthy environment for kids or teachers.

"Our kids are in 184 mobile units, so that's not new, and they have been for years," Bridges said. "It didn't just start. That's the conversation that I've had over the two-and-a-half years that I've been here. How do we get them out of those mobile units and get them into the brick-and-mortar so we don't have to worry about some of the things we just described?"

From science:

Carolina Forest High School Teacher:

Many lab consumables are not paid for by the school.  If we really want students to actually DO science we need to provide those materials.

To the arts:

HCS Drama Teacher:

Supplies/costumes for music theatre productions, music

Teachers are clearly supplementing the hands-on learning experience. The drama teacher said she spent more than $2,500 of her own money for a school production.

"Our purpose is to fund the core instruction that goes into the classroom," Maxey said. "I certainly admire teachers who go above and beyond. They do it on a daily basis and I say with gratitude, I appreciate what they do. But I really think with that type of expenditure it would be very wise to bring it to the leadership team at the school that I have this need so we can see if we need to address that."

The sciences present a similar issue but a different problem at West Florence High School.

West Florence High School Teacher:

We have a $1,250 budget for 15 science teachers and none of it was available for my supplies. For 15 science teachers in a school of almost 1,800 kids, we share one computer cart with 30 computers.

"There are 21, 22 mobiles on that site," Bridges said. "Basically all of the ninth graders on that site are in mobiles behind the school. It makes it difficult to get that cart around in particular if you only have one. Our district doesn't have a specific pot of money for technology and that has been a problem."

Some spending doesn't have anything to do with instruction at all.

North Vista Elementary Teacher:

I bought Clorox wipes, Lysol, hand sanitizer, soap, and paper towels. If I had more money, the room would be cleaner and there would be less sickness.

"All those things have evolved to where we are, and I'm not being negative about them," Bridges said. "They're needed. Kids need to be healthy and in school, and not sick and out of school."

Maxey had a different response to a similar survey answer.

Carolina Forest Elementary School Teacher:

Clorox, Lysol, because what the district uses doesn't work.

"Actually, we shouldn't be using that particular product," Maxey said. "I think we feel comfortable using things at home as far as cleaning is concerned and these are the products that we use, but we have to make decisions when we purchase supplies to make sure that they do not create health issues and they're in compliance with any state regulations as far as chemicals that are being used around students in a school setting."

One in five teachers responded they buy tissues or Kleenex themselves. Parents know that's a popular item that shows up on teacher wish lists at the beginning of each year, but WMBF wanted to know if those lists even need to be sent home.

"I think parents respond to it," Bridges said. "I'm not sure that they like it or dislike it. They respond to it if they can. If they can't, we understand that too. I think that until we're in a position as a district, as a state, as a country, that none of those things are acceptable, that we're going to provide the resources and funding for those things to be in the classroom, then we'll have to have that partnership."

At least one teacher said their district is too restrictive.

Aynor Middle School Teacher:

We are overloaded with people at the district office who are constantly sending down more for teachers to do in a classroom. Our students would benefit more if we quit paying all of these outside companies like Kagan and Ed Elements and focused on supporting our teachers who know what the students need.

"They have the frontline contact with students and we need to know what they're thinking so we can revise and improve," Maxey said. "Any organization that doesn't seek to reflect and improve upon itself is destined to become stale and ineffective."

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