Lake County teachers may find it easier to buy classroom supplies without dipping as deeply into their personal funds this year as the district has made $150 available to them this month through an online purchasing program called ClassWallet, with more money to come in September.
Under the old system, the district would give each teacher a check later in the first semester to cover the cost of classroom supplies. Teachers, schools and the district were responsible for record-keeping and missteps could result in tax penalties.
Now, when teachers log into their ClassWallet account they are able to shop tax-free online with popular vendors, many of whom offer free shipping. Unlike in previous years, teachers are not required to save or remit any receipts for online shopping. The program does it for them.
For eligible purchases that were made prior to the district’s Aug. 5 launch of the program, teachers can submit scanned copies of receipts easily through the ClassWallet platform. Additionally, they can continue using ClassWallet to enter receipts for reimbursement until March, which allows them the opportunity to shop at places other than the online market.
“Teachers like this because it’s a faster process, they can get reimbursed directly into their bank account, and they can buy materials into the second semester,’’ said Stuart Klatte, president of the Lake County Education Association.
Returning teachers received partial funding of $150 in their accounts on Aug. 5, in time for the statewide sales tax holiday. The allocation will be adjusted in September when the district has a final count on the number of teachers employed for the year. The funds for new teachers and the additional money for returning teachers will be applied to accounts no later than Sept. 30.
So far, more than 800 Lake teachers have used the program for the purchase of nearly 6,000 items.
ClassWallet is used in several Florida districts including Polk, Osceola, Miami-Dade and Broward.