The Garden City Public Schools Foundation's Grant Squad, armed with a way to help teachers enhance their classroom activities, recently made stops at local schools.

Five Garden City USD 457 educators were recipients of mini-grant checks, and have plans to purchase items ranging from painting supplies to microscopes.

The mini-grants help support learning initiatives and may be used for a class or department, or individual staff development for a district employee.

The nonprofit Garden City Public Schools Foundation, which operates in alliance with the Western Kansas Community Foundation, works to generate, manage and distribute funds as a way to enhance educational opportunities in local schools.

The organization's generous endeavor is all the more valuable at a time public schools in Garden City and throughout Kansas address budget concerns.

There's no question education dollars are tight. School districts must closely scrutinize all spending, as district patrons want their tax dollars spent with care.

The $200 mini-grants aren't enough to cure the kind of budget woes caused by lingering uncertainty over state aid to K-12 schools. But they're still difference-makers and notable in other ways.

While school districts do their best to get teachers the supplies they need and parent-teacher organizations and other groups supplement those needs many educators still dip into their own wallets to enhance the learning process.

According to a report released last year, public school teachers nationwide spent $1.6 billion of their own money on classroom supplies and gear for the 2012-13 school year.

The study from the National School Supply and Equipment Association found nearly all public school teachers spent some amount of money out of pocket, with the national average per teacher coming in at $485.

Teachers should never be required to purchase their own supplies. That many choose to do so brings more evidence of the dedication of educators who, in spite of many challenges, go beyond the call of duty to help students receive the best education possible.

They deserve to see such heartening efforts from the Garden City Public Schools Foundation and others in the community who step up in a show of support.