CONWAY, Ark. — The first day of school for many of Central Arkansas' students is just around the corner— as families get their kids ready for school, teachers have been staying busy.
When you enter Williams Magnet School, the sound of teachers hard at work getting their classrooms ready is hard to miss.
"Everything that I put on my walls has a purpose," said Anna Mask, a teacher at Williams Magnet, as she hung borders on her bulletin boards.
She added that decorating her room isn't cheap— this year especially.
"I'd say, over the last eight years, at least $5,000," Mask said.
Many districts don't cover the costs for decorating classrooms, but those classrooms still end up colorful and inviting for students.
"I think your room and how it looks and yourself and your personality, like, that sets the tone," Mask said.
She isn't alone in that feeling. Across the building, Stephanie Wedell is also preparing for the new year.
"Probably more, first year is awful, really," she said, laughing. "It's so nerve-wracking. Now you kind of feel like you know what you're doing."
That nerve-wracking sensation has only increased as inflation has continued to rise.
"I feel like everybody is kind of thinking that like, you know, everything costs more, when do I get paid more?" Wedell said.
They're not the only ones who have noticed those higher prices— economists like Dr. Jeremy Horpedahl at the University of Central Arkansas have seen it too.
"School items are going up just as fast or faster than the overall inflation level," he said.
If you've been hoping for relief, either for school supplies or anything else, economists said that while there's hope, it may not be coming soon.
"So on average, the prices that producers pay for their inputs did fall in July," Dr. Horpedahl said. "So that's some, that's maybe one glimmer of hope that maybe we'll start to see some relief for consumer prices soon."
Prices are so high that teachers like Mask have created an Amazon wishlist for anyone willing to help out.
While decorating her room isn't a requirement, she said it gets her students engaged— even if it means being extra creative this year to make it happen.
"Asking other teachers around the building, like, 'Hey, does anybody have this particular border before I go out and try to buy it?'" Mask said. "I mean, it definitely has an impact."