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Shopping Spree For Teachers

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The 2,100 teachers in a Kansas City, Mo., school district have received a special assignment: to spend one day shopping for $100 worth of teaching equipment--with somebody else's money.

The business community in the largely minority school district decided last summer to try to make teachers feel more appreciated, according to Norman Hudson, the president of the Kansas City Federation of Teachers. So the business leaders joined together to hold a "teachers' fair" featuring educational supplies, and they urged local businesses and residents to "sponsor a teacher" for $100.

Each teacher will take the sum to spend in any way he or she wants at the March 5 fair, which will offer its merchandise at wholesale prices. The $100, Mr. Hudson said, is in addition to the funds already appropriated for the district's instructional-supplies budget.

The Quality Education Coalition, a group of 20 local organizations that includes the school board, teachers' union, and local businesses, raised the needed $200,000, by lobbying major companies in the area and advertising in a local business journal.

A local supplier was put in charge of getting about 20 to 30 companies to set up booths at the fair. And the school district agreed to give teachers the day off to make their purchases.

For the teachers, the money is an unexpected bonus, but the community's appreciation is what matters.

"I think it's great," said Mertha Reynolds, who teaches mathematics to 10th and 12th graders. "It's the first time the community has ever done this."

Ms. Reynolds said she did not know what she would spend the money on, but hoped to find something special.

As Mr. Hudson noted, "This is the community's way of saying 'thank you."

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