Crowdfunding helps more Indiana teachers get classroom supplies

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The average teacher spends more than $400 of their own money each year on school supplies. That's why more and more teachers are turning to crowdfunding to try to help cover the costs.

Hoosier teachers are using a website like GoFundMe called DonorsChoose. Projects on the site raise money for things like books, art supplies and sports equipment.

Stacey Kelley is an Indianapolis Public School teacher who has had 41 projects funded so far. Her classroom is full of supplies she may not otherwise have been able to provide for her students.

“In third grade we have to start wearing belts with our uniforms, so last year I was able to get 30 belts for my classroom,” Kelley said.

Even with crowdfunding, the U.S. Department of Education says the average teacher spends $480 each year out-of-pocket on supplies.

“I think when a person goes into teaching, they go into teaching because they care. Sometimes we spend more than we should of our own money because we think of our kids first, but yeah we just do it because we want them to have the same benefits we had,” IPS teacher Kristi Sebastian said.

A proposed bill making its way through the state legislature would help Hoosier teachers by increasing tax credits for classroom supplies from $100 to up to $500 a year. Even if it doesn’t pass, the teachers say it’ll always be about the students.

“It makes them feel like, 'Hey I am valuable, and I am just as valuable as anyone else,'” Sebastian said.

A federal law allows teachers a $250 educator expense deduction. That kind of deduction is called an "above-the-line" deduction meaning it reduces AGI instead of taxable income.

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