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Teacher's Choice

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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.

This year, in a major milestone for the program, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council agreed to allocate $20 million in funds for Teacher's Choice as part of the annual city budget.

Funding by title for the 2019–20 school year

Title Amount
Teachers $250
School counselors $110
Social workers and psychologists $110
Universal literacy coaches $110
Single Shepherds $110
Occupational and physical therapists $95
School nurses $95
Lab specialists $85
School secretaries $60

How the program works

To make use of your Teacher's Choice funds, educators must save their receipts for purchases made between Aug. 1, 2019 and Jan. 12, 2020. These receipts must accompany a Statement of Purpose/Accountability form, which must be submitted by Jan. 17, 2020. 

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. 18, 2019. If you receive the Teacher's Choice funds in your paycheck and do not file an accountability form with required receipts by the  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.

Key dates for the 2019–20 school year

Aug. 1, 2019 Purchasing period begins
Oct. 18, 2019 Deadline to submit the Request for Non-Participation Form to opt out
Nov. 29, 2019 Initial distribution of funds to eligible employees in their regular paychecks. Funds will be treated as a post-net adjustment and are non-taxable
Dec. 31, 2019 Second distribution of funds to eligible employees who did not receive funds during the initial distribution
Jan. 12, 2020 Deadline to make purchases
Jan. 17, 2020 Deadline to submit the accountability form
June 30, 2020 Participants who did not opt out and did not submit their receipts and accountability form will receive a deduction in their paychecks

Still have questions?

For additional information or assistance from the DOE, see the DOE's Teacher's Choice website (note: you'll have to log in) or please contact the DOE Teacher's Choice Unit at 718-935-3304 or email teacherschoice@schools.nyc.gov. At the UFT, call 212-331-6311.