NEW YORK (Reuters) – Teachers face a harsh lesson as inflation drives up the cost of everything from paper to pencils before the school year begins, leading some to cut back on supplies – or substitute with cheaper items.
“If you ask any teacher, Ticonderoga pencils are it,” said Kristina Eisenhower, 35, an instructional facilitator. Yet a 12-pack of that popular brand costs $3.99, up nearly 25% from a year ago, on Amazon.com Inc.
In parts of Arkansas, where Eisenhower works, teachers’ annual $500 stipend for classroom materials has not increased in 15 years. “They’re buying cheaper pencils, cheaper supplies, which in reality are not going to last as long as the name-brand supplies they’ve bought in the past,” she said.
Folders and binders cost 17% more than a year ago, according to data from analytics firm NielsenIQ. Prices are up 23% for graph paper, 8% for scissors, and 28% for book covers.
Some teachers have formed groups to buy supplies in bulk from retailers like The Dollar Tree Inc and Walmart Inc.
“Educators are going to try to stretch each dollar and they’re probably going to dip into more of their personal funds to ensure kids have what they need,” said Colin Sharkey, executive director of the Association of American Educators.
A National Retail Federation survey in July found 47% of consumers were switching to cheaper options for school supplies due to higher prices.
Some teachers create Amazon wish lists for classroom supplies, which they may share on social media…