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For teachers, changing classes, grade levels comes at a cost

Back-to-school is costing more this year, amid record inflation.

SUMTER, S.C. — The Sumter School District joins others nearing a start and three-year teacher Courtney Grant is excited to have her students back.

"I love seeing growth," Grant said. "If I see one child walk out and say they learned this, I feel like, oh my God I did something great."

She'll be switching to the second grade this year from the fifth.

A new classroom means new classroom supplies - an additional expense amid rising costs.

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"You know I go in there and I look at the crayons. They crayons have gone up. They're not even like $0.88 any more. It's gone up. Everything has gone up and so it makes it harder for teachers and parents and just schools around to supply those materials, because those kids need those materials," Grant said.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumer spending is expected to reach $37 billion this year with one-third of shoppers planning to cut back to cover costs.

Clothing and accessories are among the items to see higher prices with many people choosing to shop online or at discount retailers.

Joseph Von Nessen, a research economist with UofSC, said the Federal Reserve's efforts to curb inflation by raising interest rates may bring some relief, but it won't be immediate.

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"All goods are more expensive this year, unfortunately, because of the inflation that we're experiencing. So, when parents are looking to buy school supplies for their kids, I think they need to be prepared for that," Von Nessen said, "and hopefully, we'll begin to see those prices level off during the second half of the year and inflation to go back down."

Credit: Courtney Grant
Courtney Grant, a Sumter teacher, and her son.

Grant said her school, Lemira Elementary, is helping provide materials to students.

The State Department of Education says teachers can also expect a slight increase in teacher's school supply stipend, bringing the total to $300 from $275.

Despite the cost, Grant hopes other educators and families will be encouraged.

"Let's persevere through that and let's give our kids a good year, because at the end of the day, it's about the kids," Grant said.

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