By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–Teachers have been providing supplies to their classroom for years. A bill passed out of the Senate Thursday providing them with $300 in every K-12 classroom across the state annually. This is an increase from the current allowance of $130. The allowance will come from the Alabama Education Trust Fund.
Senator Greg Reed (R-Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Winston), sponsored SB257. After much discussion, it passed the Senate and was Tabled sending it directly to the Governor’s Office for signature.
Reed said, “I asked school teachers in my district, ‘What is the most difficult thing that you have to do in order to get your job done?’”
The biggest concern was that teachers are taking money out of their own pocket to provide supplies for their classrooms.
Reed asked the teachers why they do this. Speaking on behalf of the teachers, Reed said, “‘We do that because we love our children and we are committed to our classroom. We want the supplies that are required for us to do our job to be a part of what is the reality of each single day as we work to take care of these children in the classroom.’”
“Previously, much of the supplies in Alabama classrooms were purchased out of pocket by the teachers. Placing that burden on teachers is unreasonable,” said Senator Reed.
He said he visited a new school in Jefferson County and spoke with the librarian who informed him that she didn’t have the funds to subscribe to newspapers or magazines. So, none were provided for the students.
Reed said that he thought it unimaginable that students did not have access to newspapers and magazines in their libraries.
Co-sponsor Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) said, “If we want Alabama to succeed in education we have to work to put the correct tools in the right hands,” Allen said. “That starts with bill’s like these that give educators the ability to do their Job. We are committed to our teachers and our students.”
“The cost is about $12 million, however if you look at the budget last year as we tried to move some of those dollars back we found that there was about $140 that was already there. So the actual cost to the budget is going to be somewhere in the $7 to $8 million range by guaranteeing these dollars be used in the classroom,” said Reed.
“Education is part of our main focus this session,” Majority Leader J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner (R-Birmingham) said. “We want to show educators we are dedicated to put Alabama on top in education, and that starts by supporting our teachers.”
The bill is sent to the House for assignment to committee.