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.

In the 2017–18 school year, teachers will each receive $250. Guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists, school secretaries and lab specialists are also eligible for Teacher's Choice funding. This year, occupational and physical therapists and school nurses will also receive Teacher's Choice for the first time.

How the program works

To make use of your Teacher's Choice funds, educators must save their receipts for purchases made between Aug. 1, 2017 and Jan. 14, 2018. 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 receive their Teacher's Choice funds in their last November or first December paychecks. Those who do not wish to participate must submit a Request for Non-Participation (Opt Out Form) by Oct. 20, 2017. If you receive the Teacher's Choice funds in your paycheck and do not file an accountability form with required receipts by the Jan. 19, 2018 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, 2017 — Purchasing period begins
Oct. 20, 2017 — Deadline to submit the Request for Non-Participation Form in order to opt out of the program
Nov. 30, 2017 — Distribution of Teacher's Choice funds to eligible employees in their regular paychecks (OTs, PTs and nurses will receive the funds in their Dec. 1, 2017 paychecks)
Jan. 14, 2018 — Deadline to make purchases
Jan. 19, 2018 — Deadline to submit Statement of Purpose/Accountability Form to school principal

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 Michael Sill at msill@uft.org.

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