Wake County teachers will be soon able to shop in Cary for free classroom supplies to reduce the need to pay for items out of their own pockets.
The Wake County school board agreed last week to lease space near the Crossroads Shopping Center in Cary to the WakeEd Partnership to convert into a “teacher store” offering free school and classroom supplies to district teachers.
Keith Poston, president of WakeEd, says the store is needed because teachers shouldn’t have to use so much of their own money to buy the materials that their students need.
“We think it’s going to be a very great benefit for teachers,” Poston said at last week’s school board meeting. “Unlike masks and vaccines, I think that this is something everyone can agree that all of our teachers and classrooms and students should have everything they need when they go to school.”
WakeEd is a business-backed advocacy group that supports public education. WakeEd will provide items it buys with donation money or through in-kind donations.
Teachers spending hundreds of dollars on supplies
WakeEd cited several statistics for why the store is needed:
▪ Nationally, 94% of public school teachers report spending their own money for classroom supplies.
▪ State funding for classroom supplies has decreased by 55% per student over the past decade.
▪ North Carolina teachers spend an average of $526 a year of their own money on supplies. Many teachers, especially those without well-funded school PTAs, often spend a higher amount.
▪ New teachers tend to have the greatest needs for supplies.
“While the district does a good job providing basic supplies to our schools, WakeEd Partnership has recognized that gaps remain, particularly among our lowest-wealth students and families across the county,” the group said in a statement.
WakeEd plans to start a school supply drive this fall, with teachers being able to visit the new location to pick up supplies.
Poston says this model can work, citing work done in Mecklenburg and Guilford counties.
Since 2002, Classroom Central has provided free supplies to teachers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system. The program has since expanded to serve six districts in the Charlotte area.
The Teacher Supply Warehouse provides a place where teachers in the Guilford County school system can shop for free supplies.
Store near Crossroads Shopping Center
The location of the new Wake store is the former Crossroads Ford of Cary service center site at 1660 Piney Plains Road in Cary. The school system purchased the property to turn it into a multi-million dollar school transportation center where school buses will be serviced.
Construction work on the transportation center isn’t slated to begin until 2023, so the district is leasing part of the site to WakeEd for the next 20 months.
WakeEd will operate the store at the location. It will also store supplies there for “pop-up events” held in other locations in case teachers can’t get to the Cary site.
“This is just going to be another example of a great collaboration with WakeEd Partnership,” Superintendent Cathy Moore told the school board.