GRPS teachers turn to crowdfunding for school supplies amid budget cuts

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The new school year is approaching, and many local districts are still struggling with funding.

The lack of funding is now trickling down to teachers, forcing them to come up with some creative ways to make sure their students get what they need.

Leaders with Grand Rapids Public Schools say it's been a steady decline for the last 20 years.  They've cut more than $100 million from the budget, closed 35 schools and eliminated 1,000 jobs.

Still, teachers continue to go above and beyond to make sure their classrooms are stocked with the necessary tools and resources.

Teachers like Sabrina Hatfield are turning to crowdfunding to get money for things like pencils and paper for her 25 students.

"I've spent a lot of money out of pocket already on basic school supplies, and obviously I've turned to DonorsChoose.org for the literacy aspect," Hatfield, a first grade teacher at Kent Hills Elementary, said.

DonorsChoose allows people to select school districts across the country, including GRPS, and pledge money for different school supplies.

GRPS says there are also community programs helping offset the shortfall, but with declining enrollment and reduced property taxes, their hands are tied.

"Our funding levels are really down to the 2006 levels," said GRPS spokesperson John Helmholdt. "So absolutely the level of funding and support, resources has a direct impact on the instruction and our ability to provide support services that may be above and beyond what happens in your traditional class."

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