MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As parents and teachers go back-to-school shopping, most have something in common: they’ll spend a lot of money — often more than $100 — out of their own pockets.

WCCO went school supply shopping alongside an Eagan second-grade teacher, to see what’s in her cart. With her 14-month-old daughter in tow, Danielle Zurn picked out markers, pre-sharpened pencils, notebooks and other predictable items to help students who run out of supplies.

“My kids typically bring in a lot of things,” said Zurn. “The problem is, in the middle of the year, when we run out.”

She said parents typically help replenish some supplies over the holiday season, which she says typically lasts until early spring, when she makes another trip to Target.

According to a WCCO survey, involving more than 1,000 of Minnesota’s educators, some districts will give stipends to cover the cost of school supplies. Zurn’s school designates one teacher for every grade to buy communal things on the district’s dime. That’s typically office supplies such as staples, pens and whiteboard markers.

“It’s definitely changed, even since my first year teaching,” said Zurn. “We used to get a lot more supplies from our district but just with budget cuts, there’s really not much [money available] at all.”

Zurn said she used to be nervous asking parents for help, but today, her advice is simple: Families willing to contribute should ask their teacher what he or she needs for the classroom, or observe what he or she uses.

Christiane Cordero

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