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Teachers need community’s help

Call goes out for basic supplies, volunteers

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Teachers need community’s help

Veritas School eighth grader Joseph Samson checked out Give Every Child a Chance at the teen summit last year

Bulletin file photo/


POSTED August 8, 2009 2:24 a.m.

A simple donation of a package of ruled binder paper to a school near you could make a big difference in a kid’s education – and the financial bottom line of their teacher – this school year at Manteca Unified campuses.

Teachers are effectively taking a 1.8 percent pay cut on average even after 90 of their colleagues lost their jobs due to the yanking  of $31 million from Manteca Unified because of the state’s $26 billion deficit.

It won’t stop them from doing what teachers normally do – digging into their own pockets to pay for teaching material that is not in the budget.

This year, though, it will be worse.

The district has budgeted funds for classroom supplies and materials. It just isn’t the fact it is less than last year that is the problem. The district doesn’t have the money from the state to cover the entire budget for materials.

Usually, teachers will spend half of the school year’s allotment for their classroom materials in the first few weeks of school to secure things such as scissors for all students. This year the district is limiting expenditures to 25 percent of what is budgeted simply because the cash hasn’t arrived from Sacramento to pay for obligations.

District Superintendent Jason Messer says he expects teachers will simply dig deeper into their own pockets to buy the missing supplies. Contributions of basic materials means the teachers – who are making less money – can use their own personal resources to buy items that augment the basics.

Messer explained that his wife, as an example is now teaching third grade in the Manteca Unified School District instead of kindergarten which she has taught previously.

She has given the items that she was using to teach kindergarten to her replacement. However, she needs to buy items to help her teach second graders including a CD player for part of the music she wants to use to enhance teaching points.

“We are fortunate in that we can afford it,” said Messer. “There are a lot of single, younger teachers out there who are barely making it who dig into their own pockets each year to make it work. They have student loans, mortgage payments or rent, car payments, and food expenses like everyone else.”

Messer said the best way to help is either through donation of materials or donation of time.

He said the need isn’t for used computers or used encyclopedias. The best way to help is to donate simple items such as binder paper, pencils, crayons, and such.

Messer said that would free teachers to use their own money – or the classroom funds when they are available – to buy things such as specific sizes of color construction paper and other material.

Messer encourages people to make donations of basic items at various school offices or through a program where volunteers have organized drop offs at the city’s fire stations. Individuals could also contact school principals to see if teachers have specific wish lists.

“You don’t have to donate materials,” Messer said. “Sometimes just your time will make a big difference.”

He noted cutbacks have ended special after school tutoring which means a bigger pressure will be on the community-based Give Every Child a Chance free tutoring program.

If you’ve got a couple of hours a week to help you can assist Give Every Child a Chance tutor or help the Boys & Girls Club,” Messer said.

The superintendent noted that programs such as the Boys & Girls Club and GECAC are going to be called in to help bridge gaps by budget cutbacks even though they are already feeling the same impacts of the economic slowdown and state budget crisis.

Programs like those two are going to fill in the gaps created by the cutbacks in various school programs.

Messer emphasized things are not going to be the same way as they were in previous years.

“We are going to be doing things with a lot less money but we are still going to teach kids (and be successful),” Messer said.

Messer said the district – teachers, support staff, and students – will “survive and thrive.”

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