Teachers and parents feel inflationary 'pinch' - Albuquerque Journal

Teachers and parents feel inflationary ‘pinch’

A laptop for sale at Computer Corner on Menaul. Brian Fletcher, the store’s owner, said that the tax-free weekend “is always a big deal” for his store and for his customers. (Liam DeBonis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

In August 2020, a 12 pack of Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils cost $2.39 at Target.

The next year, $2.49.

This year? The same 12-pack costs $2.99.

It might seem like a matter of cents, but it’s a price increase of about 25% over the past two years.

Inflation is at the highest it’s been in 40 years. And back-to-school shopping is already pricey – last year U.S. parents spent over $600 on average on school supplies, a Deloitte study found.

Robyn Simon, operations coordinator of Albuquerque-based school supply donation center Locker #505, said this year she’s seeing more families use the program than ever.

“Budgets just aren’t going as far as they used to,” Simon said.

More need for donations

Locker #505 is referral based; school counselors refer students to the program, where they can “shop” free-of-cost through the center’s clothes, shoes, toys, backpacks and books.

Simon said that in previous years, the highest number of referrals she’s received in a day was 64.

On Thursday, she received 145.

“That tells me that the need is greater,” Simon said. “These parents need food and there’s just not a lot left over for other things.”

Simon said that Locker #505’s own budget has been stretched this year. If the nonprofit doesn’t receive donations of a certain size or type, they buy them to fill the gap.

“Clothes are more expensive,” Simon said.

Although the center usually only accepts referrals Mondays through Thursdays, she said that she had five kids coming in Friday because “the need is desperate.”

On Sunday, Locker #505 is partnering at a city event at Civic Plaza where children can get free haircuts, sports physicals, backpacks with school supplies and clothing vouchers.

Simon also says that Locker #505 is encouraging people on social media to buy extra supplies during this weekend’s tax-free holiday to donate. During the holiday – held the first weekend of August every year – the state allows some back-to-school purchases, like backpacks, clothes and school supplies, to be sold tax-free.

Tax-free weekend some relief

Danessa Alderete was taking advantage of the tax-free holiday at Walmart on Friday. She said it was the first time she was taking advantage of the annual program.

“Usually the lines are so long it’s not worth it,” said Alderete, who was shopping for her two children. “But we got out early this year.”

She said she normally spends about $300 on clothes, backpacks and supplies for her daughter, who is going into fifth grade, and her high school-age son. Alderete tries to save up for back-to-school shopping throughout the year. Groceries have been a greater cost this year; Alderete said she’s been changing her shopping habits to save.

“We’ve been trying to buy more whole foods, cook at home, and that turns into more savings for back-to-school,” Alderete said.

Brian Fletcher, owner of Computer Corner near Menaul and Carlisle, says that the “tax-free holiday is always a big deal” – both for his store and his customers. On an average month, Fletcher says, the store sells 25 laptops. But in August, that number doubles.

Fletcher has four school-age children of his own, and says he probably spends about $500 or more every year on school supplies.

On smaller school supplies, Fletcher said, the tax-holiday savings can be minimal. But on a more expensive item like a laptop, customers can save more; according to Fletcher, that means people can buy accessories they normally wouldn’t be able to budget for.

“When you buy some pencils and some paper, it’s nice that it’s tax-free, but you’re usually talking pennies of savings,” Fletcher said. “You buy a laptop and a printer and a monitor, and if you get anywhere near that $1,000 cutoff, you can save almost $100.”

Teachers feeling the pinch

According to education nonprofit AdoptAClassroom.org, in 2021, U.S. teachers spend an average of $750 of their own money on classroom supplies.

Billie Helean, Rio Rancho School Employees’ Union president and first grade teacher at Ernest Stapleton Elementary, turned to social media to raise money for school supplies this year.

“I personally spend, usually, well over $1,000 a year on my classroom and that can go from anything from snacks for my kids to pencils to paper – it runs the gamut,” Helean said. “… We only are allowed to deduct $250 from our tax return, so if we spend more than that money, we don’t get it back.”

Helean made an Amazon wish list of classroom supplies and shared it with friends and family. All of her requests were fulfilled this year. Because of the support, she was able to get additional supplies for her classroom that she normally wouldn’t have splurged on – like extra stools for her pint-sized students.

“I only had one stool, so we were constantly carrying it around the classroom,” Helean said. “Now I have three so I can place them where they need them the most. … It sounds like a stupid little thing, but it really helps the kids develop independence.”

Helean says she’s one of many teachers turning to social media to ask for donations using the hashtag #clearthelist.

Eldorado High School science teacher Jennifer Coughlin is also getting ready for the school year. She says she’s seen a difference between back-to-school shopping this year and last year.

“I’ve seen fewer school supply sales, which makes me feel a bit nervous for my students,” Coughlin said. “Prices are high … so I know families are going to feel the pinch.”

Coughlin says she spends several hundreds of dollars on classroom supplies. Every year she gets extra notebooks, pencils and rulers for students who don’t have their own.

“We are compassionate people by nature so I do think that teachers try to fill that gap,” Coughlin said.

But filling that gap has become harder recently. “I do have supply money from my school, but that has been diminishing through the years,” Coughlin said. “… (Teachers) also have families, so we also have less discretionary income so our ability to close that gap is a little bit harder.”

Coughlin said that donations from families of consumables like paper towels are invaluable. By taking care of certain needs in the classroom, teachers can spend more on instructional materials and professional development.

She recommends that parents stay in close communication with teachers during the back-to-school shopping period so they can ensure that every student gets the supplies they need.

“We want kids to be successful,” Coughlin said. “But we can’t help if we don’t know there’s a need.”

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Teachers and parents feel inflationary ‘pinch’

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
Ready for Rihanna? A look at five songs that ...
ABQnews Seeker
Journal Staff WriterI am not sure ... Journal Staff WriterI am not sure if you have heard, but there is a football game this ...
2
Valentine's Day in Albuquerque: Lovers, friends and lonely hearts ...
ABQnews Seeker
There are plenty of fun options ... There are plenty of fun options for everyone to celebrate on or around the occasion
3
7 activities around the state to love this Valentine's ...
ABQnews Seeker
This weekend leads into Valentine's Day, ... This weekend leads into Valentine's Day, a holiday commonly associated with amor. Here are some activities to help you spend time with those you ...
4
Person fatally shot outside truck stop in Northwest Albuquerque
ABQnews Seeker
A person was shot and killed ... A person was shot and killed at a truck stop Wednesday afternoon in Northwest Albuquerque. Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque police spokesman, said police responded ...
5
Senate decisively approves bill funding NM wildfire recovery efforts. ...
ABQnews Seeker
While New Mexico waits for federal ... While New Mexico waits for federal disaster relief funds to arrive, a bill that would allow public repair work in the burn scar of ...
6
Magician Jordan Jonas brings card tricks, mind reading and ...
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque magician Jordan Jonas brings his ... Albuquerque magician Jordan Jonas brings his creepy brand of psychic ability, sideshow stunts and storytelling into a haunted evening at Fusion at 7 p.m. ...
7
Senate Bill 12 aims to expand film incentive package
ABQnews Seeker
A proposed bill will help continue ... A proposed bill will help continue growth of state film jobs and workforce training. On Wednesday, Senate Bill 12 was introduced by Sen. Nancy ...
8
7 gun laws proposed in New Mexico
ABQnews Seeker
Gun control legislation is a priority ... Gun control legislation is a priority this year; here’s a round-up of what proposed laws would do, and where they’re at in the process.
9
Walmart shooting suspect pleads guilty to federal charges
ABQnews Seeker
EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- A ... EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- A Texas man pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges accusing him of killing nearly two dozen people in a ...