PINE BELT (WDAM) - Each year teachers across Mississippi get a little extra help when it comes to buying supplies for their classrooms.
The Education Enhancement Fund procurement card program through the Mississippi Department of Education is one form of help, allowing teachers to buy supplies for their classrooms.
"It is incredibly important, teachers do not make a whole lot, and that income should be used for their family and their needs, so any little extra that could benefit them for their classroom," said Lamar County Superintendent Tess Smith.
"EEF cards are critically important to our district and many districts across the state," said Petal School District Superintendent Matt Dillon. "This allots and allows teachers the opportunity to purchase things for instructional use in the classroom, whether it be consumables, whether it be technology software, books, whatever is needed."
In the 2015-2016 school year, roughly 720 teachers in the Lamar County School District received the cards, each with $391.00. Petal School District received 295 cards, each with the same amount according to Dillon.
"Of course last year we had roughly a little over $390 per teacher, from our understanding due to the collections that's going to be down a little bit this year," said Dillon.
The amount can change from year to year based on the legislative appropriations according to Smith.
"They can take that and use wherever they would normally use a credit or debit card, the only requirement is that they have to keep the receipts and they can only use the receipts and they can only use the money for actual classroom supplies," said Smith.
The receipts are kept for up to five years, due to the system that is constantly audited.
"About this time of year, and actually the states already made the request, we have to send them that number of certified teachers, cause its only for classroom teachers," said Smith. "One good thing is, last year we got the cards actually in August, because the earlier we can get them the better, because teachers, most of them have already set their classrooms up now."
"That money is very important to our teachers and just for them to provide and have the resources needed to have a high-quality education in the class room," said Dillon. "I think it's just critically important for them to have all the resources at their fingertips to produce the best product and work very very closely with our students to have that quality relationship with them but also provide that high quality of education for them that creates the foundation for years to come."
Information for the EEF Card Program according to the Mississippi Department of Education:
Pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 37-61-33(3)(iii), As Amended, this policy provides rules and regulations for the administration of Education Enhancement Funds appropriated for classroom supplies, materials and equipment to be distributed to all eligible teachers within the state through the use of procurement cards. The intent of the policy is to allow individual teachers to expend such funds, as they deem appropriate, to support the overall goals of the school. Classroom supply funds may not be expended for administrative purposes. These funds may only be used to supplement, not replace, other local and state funds available for the same purpose.
On or before September 1 of each year, local school districts shall determine and submit to the State Department of Education the number of teachers eligible to receive an allocation for the current year. The term "teacher" shall mean any employee of the school district who is required by law to obtain a teacher's license from the State Board of Education and is assigned to an instructional area of work, but shall not include a federally funded teacher. The term "teacher" includes all licensed regular teachers and licensed state or locally funded special education teachers, vocational teachers, gifted teachers, counselors and librarians.