Bill would reimburse teachers for out-of-pocket expenses - abc27 WHTM

Bill would reimburse teachers for out-of-pocket expenses

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Rich Askey teaches music at Harrisburg's Foose School. He's been an educator for 30 years. So how much of his own money has he spent on his students in those three decades?

"There's no way I can do that calculation for you," he said, but added it's a lot.

At least several hundred dollars a year, he says. For instance, this year Askey purchased supplemental music to enhance his textbooks, which he says are 20 years old.

"So I can at least give my kids music that isn't old school and tired. I'm always spending money on my classroom just to give the kids the best advantage possible," Askey said.

Askey's not alone, which prompted Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) to introduce a bill that would reimburse teachers up to $500 in tax credits when they use their own money on school supplies that help students.

"Our teachers are struggling," Wheatley said. "They're going above and beyond with the little bit of means that they have. They're going into their pockets to try to provide for our children. I think the commonwealth should provide some relief for them."

A pro-teacher bill from a Pittsburgh Democrat that's asking for $65 million would normally not get passing grades in the Republican-controlled House, but there are Republicans supporting it.

"I worked in the Tunkhannock Area School District, home to the Tigers," Rep. Karen Boback (R-Columbia/Luzerne/Wyoming) said with great pride.

Boback taught for 33 years and often opened her purse to aid her classroom and her students. She knows teachers pay for everything from software to softer tissues for their students.

"I remember teaching kindergarten where their little noses were just so sore from a generic brand tissue," Boback said. "So I went out and got the soft ones. It can be as simple as that."

Boback and Askey say teachers will continue to spend on their students regardless of whether the bill succeeds or fails, but they hope it passes to formally reward good behavior.

"This is just a response from the state saying 'thank you, we recognize your efforts,' " Askey said.

A House GOP spokesman said Wheatley's bill is not a front-burner issue but didn't completely reject it, saying that the Education Committee would "take a look at it."


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