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Members get big boost in Teacher’s Choice funds

Therapists and school nurses part of program for first time

Educators who are ready to begin purchasing materials and supplies for the upcoming school year will have significantly more spending money thanks to a hard-fought increase in City Council funding for Teacher’s Choice.

Teachers will each receive $250 in Teacher’s Choice money this school year, an increase of more than $100 from last year. Guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists, lab specialists and school secretaries also received substantial increases.

At the UFT’s urging, occupational and physical therapists and school nurses will receive Teacher’s Choice funds this year for the first time ever.

Funding for the program, which reimburses educators for out-of-pocket spending on classroom supplies, received a 63.5 percent increase in the final city budget passed on June 6. The $20 million allotment, up from $12.3 million last year, returns funding for Teacher’s Choice back to its pre-recession high.

The increase follows a strong lobbying effort by the UFT and its members to demonstrate the impact on classroom learning of Teacher’s Choice funds, which allows educators to purchase supplies they might not otherwise be able to afford. In union campaigns for more Teacher’s Choice funding over the past three years, teachers have shared personal stories about using that money to buy everything from telescopes to butterflies in order to inspire and engage their students.

Drawing on those stories, UFT representatives made an in-person appeal about the concrete value of Teacher’s Choice to dozens of Council members at the union’s legislative breakfast in May.

“With this increase in funding for Teacher’s Choice, the City Council has sent us a clear message that they believe in our educators and support the work they are doing,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “At a time where we see public education under attack on a national level, Council members came through for our teachers and our students.”

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