Survey shows how much teachers spend on classroom supplies

School supplies can be a large expense for families and teachers.

Ninety-four percent of teachers say they spend hundreds of their own dollars on classroom supplies, according to a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The survey showed that teachers spend an average $479, with teachers in city schools spending more than teachers in suburban and rural school districts.

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Dayton-based nonprofit Crayons to Classrooms helps relieve some of those costs by providing millions of dollars in free school supplies to teachers in the Miami Valley.

Kristine Gillespie, a teacher at Harry Russell Elementary School in West Carrollton, said that she’s lucky to have received free schools supplies from the nonprofit for her entire teaching career.

“It’s saving me a minimum of $2,000 a year,” she said. “It’s huge.”

The nonprofit is helping bring down school supply costs for teachers in 110 Miami Valley schools.

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"We focus on high-need schools where at least 60 percent of the enrollment needs either a free or reduced-price lunch," said Steve Rubenstein, executive director of Crayons to Classrooms. "The number of schools has grown over time."

However, if your school isn’t eligible, you can still apply.

“Volunteer five hours of your time and you can earn a trip here,” said Rubenstein. “If you have a teacher in your family, you yourself can volunteer five hours and give it to that teacher.”

Teachers need to make an appointment to shop at Crayons to Classrooms and can do so with a couple of clicks at

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Gillespie said that a simple box of colored pencils made a student’s day.

“She was so excited,” Gillespie said. “Because of Crayons to Classrooms I had it there waiting for her.”

The nonprofit also accepts monetary donations online and school supply donations at the store on Woodman Drive.

Crayons to Classrooms will be marking its 10th anniversary in the Miami Valley in January. The store officially opens for back-to-school shopping on Monday.

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