HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Students are ready to return to the classroom, but teachers have been spending time and money setting up their learning space before they do.

At Shepard Glen Elementary in Hamden, second-grade teacher Katie Kiely has some exciting ideas for her students, notebook necklaces to encourage writing and a digital frame to give parents a peak into the classroom. But it all comes at a price.

“We do get some money for supplies, but $200 only goes so far,” Kiely said. “One at a time, it’s ‘Oh, it’s $20 here, it’s $40 here’.”

Eventually, it all adds up.

“I’m at $700. That’s crazy, you’d think, where did that come from?” Kiely said.

Many teachers spend hundreds before the school year begins, and Kiely said it all adds up by the end of the year.

“It was a little over $3,000… those are things you can’t write off,” Kiely said.

Teachers are in charge of buying things such as books, bookshelves, and more. You name it, they buy it.

You have the items that are the one-time costs that you hope last throughout the year, such as the baskets, the erasers, and magnets for the whiteboard. But then you have expenses that accrue throughout the year, you don’t think of, that we’ve used a lot since the pandemic began. Wipes! You better believe teachers are throwing these in their personal shopping carts.

Sixth-grade teacher Ashley Beal says it’s worth buying quality items to keep learning fun and the classroom organized.

“I just thought over the summer about making toolboxes,” Beal said. “I bought these from the Dollar Store. I made toolboxes for them so it’s easier for them to grab, and then they have their stuff at their desk. You could say this would be close to three or four hundred dollars if you add everything together.”

But it’s a troubling trend nationwide, with teachers reaching deep into their wallets and spending the summer hunting for bargains.

“My bookcases. I did find them on Facebook Market, but I did have to spend money on them,” Beal explains.

Although teachers do provide parents with a wishlist, they know that some items are better bought on their own.

“You may have headphones that work at home with your device, but in a school setting, they don’t work, so ask parents to bring in a specific brand, and when you can buy it in bulk, it’s cheaper. But then to buy it in bulk – you have to do it as the teacher,” Kiely explained.

Spending, prepping, and planning for the year ahead. And while it doesn’t come cheap, it does come with excitement about the learning and fun that is about to take place.

“It’s important to not fight that battle. To make sure you’re giving them things where they can play and learn,” Kiely said. “Because they do so much better.”

Remember, you can help out! Find out if your teacher has an Amazon wishlist. There are also Crowdfunding sites like “Donors Choose.”

They also say they buy books each year because kids love them and read them to pieces, as they should be. But all that stuff needs to be replaced year after year.