"UCS Teachers Dig Deep in their Pockets to Get their Classrooms Ready for September 4"

Photo by Mike Scott

Photo by Mike Scott

Elementary school classrooms have always had that distinctive aroma on the first day of school. Memories of glue, cut up construction paper, magic markers and pencil shavings are the 'eau de classroom' each September. That scent will ring true again September 4 for students in the Utica Community Schools (UCS), but a little-known secret is that much of the smell and materials they will experience come from the investment of their own teachers.

It's a fact of life in today's school budget cut environment that teachers just expect each year to have to dig into their own purses and wallets to make sure their classrooms have what they need for students beginning a new school year.

"Each year I try and limit myself to a $200 budget but I'm closer to paying $500 to get my classroom ready this year," said 25-year teacher Charlene Sonnenberg, who teaches a split first and second grade class at Sterling Heights, Messmore Elementary. "It's certainly gotten worse the last 10 years when we used to go to the supply closet to get copy and construction paper and glue. Now it's empty."