Teacher's Choice

Generic image - piggybank, teacher's choice

The landmark City Council program, initiated by the UFT more than 25 years ago, reimburses educators — as determined by title — for the purchase of classroom and school supplies of their choice.

The final city budget contains a 62 percent increase in funding for Teacher’s Choice for the 2015-16 school year following a big social media and member-lobbying campaign by the UFT to show City Council members the direct impact that Teacher’s Choice has on classroom learning.

With the $9.65 million that the Council is allocating for Teacher’s Choice this school year, teachers, guidance counselors and others who are eligible for the funds will all receive an increase. Teachers will each receive $122 in Teacher's Choice funds this year. The amounts for all eligible titles are listed on the DOE website.  

How the program works

To make use of your Teacher's Choice funds, educators must save their receipts for purchases made from Aug. 1, 2015 through Jan. 8, 2016. These receipts must accompany a Statement of Purpose/Accountability form. You can find this form and other forms under the Key Documents section of the DOE's Teacher's Choice website.

Members will receive their Teacher's Choice funds in their late November paychecks. Those who do not wish to participate must submit a Request for Non-Participation (Opt Out Form) no later than Oct. 23. If you receive the Teacher's Choice funds in your paycheck and do not file an accountability form with required receipts by the Jan. 15, 2016 deadline, you will be obligated to refund the money to the DOE.

Items purchased under Teacher's Choice must be appropriate for educational use in the classroom or for other professional assignments. The Teacher's Choice stipend is not intended for purchases of basic supplies such as textbooks, chalk, paper, microscopes and math manipulatives, which principals are contractually obligated to provide. If that obligation is not met, let your chapter leader know.

Educators are encouraged to take advantage of the many deals on school supplies being offered throughout the city and online. The UFT supports the boycott of Staples, which is taking jobs away from unionized U.S. postal workers as the U.S. Postal Service outsources its work.

Educators are also reminded that other unreimbursed spending on school supplies may be tax-deductible.

Important dates

Aug. 1, 2015 — Teacher's Choice spending period begins (save receipts beginning on this day)
Oct. 23, 2015 — Last day to file a Request for Non-Participation (Opt Out Form) for educators who do not wish to participate
Nov. 30, 2015 — Funding distributed in regular paycheck
Jan. 8, 2016 — Purchasing deadline (last day to save receipts)
Jan. 15, 2016 — Deadline to submit Statement of Purpose/Accountability form and receipts

Still have questions?

A helpful source of information is the Teacher’s Choice section of the DOE website. You'll find a summary of your guidelines and responsibilities, a calendar of key dates, frequently asked questions and key documents.

For additional information or assistance from the DOE, please contact the DOE Office of Special Projects Unit at 718-935-3304 or email specialprojects@schools.nyc.gov. At the UFT, contact Amy Arundell at aarundell@uft.org.

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