Hannah Martin is in her second year as a pre-kindergarten teacher at Salem Elementary School in Apex, N.C.. The 23-year-old makes about $34,000 a year and in her spare time takes as many babysitting jobs as she can get.
Martin, who rents a room in a house she shares with four other women, said the work outside her classroom is necessary if her students are to have the school supplies they need.
"I only have $100 from the school for the whole year to buy supplies, and it's not enough," Martin said.
"I do the babysitting to help get money to buy toys and books," said the North Carolina native. "I even had to buy shelves and a stool for the kids to stand on to wash their hands at the sink. I spent about $500 on supplies last year, and It definitely hurts my own pocketbook."
With school budgets across the country slashed, Martin is part of a growing number of teachers spending more of their own money for school supplies, according to a recent survey from insurance firm Horace Mann, which focuses on products for educators.
(Read more: Six college courses that help grads land jobs)
The problem has reached near-crisis levels, especially in states like North Carolina.
"We're letting our teachers know how rough the situation is," said Eric Moore, a fiscal accountant at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. "We've only got about 35 percent of our past budgets for supplies this year.
"After the Great Recession, decisions were made to cut supply funding instead of teaching positions, and we're still facing that lack of funding," he said.