ELGIN, OK (KSWO) - As students get ready to head back to school for the next few weeks, teachers are spending the last few days of their summer getting their classrooms ready.
With state budget cuts taking their toll and still no teacher pay raises even voted on by the Oklahoma legislature, teachers are having to spend hundreds of dollars of their own money just to make their classrooms operational.
While many schools will help teachers out by giving them things like pencils and paper, many teachers end up spending hundreds of dollars on school supplies just to get their classrooms ready. And they'll spend even more money throughout the year.
Elgin first grade teacher Megan Snyder said Elgin does a great job of helping out as much as they can, but things like the decorations you see on the walls of every classroom and outside materials a teacher might need are often difficult for any school to purchase.
"It's very frustrating because other people at their jobs don't usually have to go spend hundreds of dollars just to make their job work every day. As a teacher, you have to do that," Snyder said.
Another Elgin teacher, Holly McElhaney, said whether they like it or not, going the extra mile is just another part of the job.
"You want a kid to come into your room and be excited to be there. You want them to be excited to learn and listen to you. You want them to be excited to come back the next day," McElhaney said.
Snyder said the traditional school supplies are obviously necessary, but it's the extra things that can truly make a difference in a kids life.
"I can remember what my classrooms looked like and if it's inviting and colorful and you see something familiar like the cat in the hat it's not so scary on the first day of school," Snyder said.
Spending personal money on school supplies would obviously be a little bit easier if teachers were paid a little bit more, which was a huge topic of discussion over the last year. But despite claims teachers would receive raises, another school year is upon us and that hasn't happened.
"I've been teaching for 10 years and our pay raise has not increased in that ten years. It's frustrating, you don't like to spend your own money. Every teacher does it because they do it for the kids. Just like you would buy things for your own personal children, these are your kids. By the end of the year, these are your children," McElhaney said.
Snyder said in her opinion, the continued educational budget cuts and lack of raises coming from the state sends a clear-cut message.
"You wonder, do people not think people are important, do we not deserve it? I've also been teaching for ten years and I've never gotten a pay raise in my ten years," Snyder said. "You come to school each year and it's the same thing. You get your step increase which is a little bit for however many years you've been teaching but it's not a raise. It doesn't make you feel very important."