RPS teachers say getting the school supplies they need from the warehouse sale is "like Christmas." (Photo by Mark Robinson)
“A stapler!” says Dale Knight, a kindergarten teacher at Southampton Elementary. She plucks one from fellow Southampton teacher Diana Herndon’s cart.
“You don’t understand. This is like Christmas for us,” Knight says, smiling.
Knight, Herndon and 30 other RPS teachers showed up to the school system’s warehouse sale before 10:30 a.m. to sift through more than $100,000 of office, art and custodial supplies in RPS storage, some dating back a decade. Teachers were notified via email last week about sale, says RPS spokesperson Richard Davis. The district also advertised it on social media. Yesterday, as news of the sale spread, some online questioned whether RPS was snubbing teachers, some of whom have routinely paid for classroom supplies out of pocket.
This morning, teachers were not charged for what they claimed. Instead, staff recorded which supplies were ending up at what schools. Cash from the sales to the general public will go back into the department’s general fund. The school district is shuttering the warehouse, located on Hermitage Road, to save money. The surplus sale ends Wednesday at noon.
“I kind of feel like a kid in a candy store,” says Sarah Anzelmo-Steele, a social studies teacher at Lucille Brown Middle.
Typically, schools make requests for supplies, which the central office then fulfills. However, if certain supplies are in high demand or simply not available, requests can go unanswered. Sometimes, teachers end up paying out of pocket for necessities the district doesn’t provide.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a Richmond city problem. It’s a national problem," says Carlette Bailey, an RPS teacher of 36 years, now at Mary Scott. A stack of construction paper, ink cartridges, staplers, glue sticks, manila envelopes, power strips, tape rolls and dispensers, binder clips and dry erase markers teeters atop the cart she's pushing to the front of the warehouse.
"If you’re a teacher, you go in your pocket so you can you get what you need, when you need it. That’s just how it is.”