Update: 8/26/08 – I received a follow up email to further clarify what they’d told me and you can see those updates highlighted in the bullet points below. It ends up that this will be discussed at tonight’s Board of Ed meeting.
Last week I wrote about learning that in some of my son’s middle school classes they don’t have textbooks for everyone, rather they have textbooks in the classroom, "classroom sets", and if students need to access them for homework they can do so online. As I wrote in my post this troubled me, so I emailed the powers that be in the school system and heard back from them late last week. Before I go on I’d like to say that they replied during what has to be a very busy time for them, it being the week before school starts and all. They told me they’re going to dig into the details and send them to me, but in the meantime they gave me the rough version:
- Not enough funding from the state for textbooks for everyone
- They chipped in local funds but it still wasn’t enough
- They had to choose between using old textbooks for everyone or buying new textbooks, using classroom sets augmented by online access for some –Update 8/26/08– I received a follow up email that corrected this (I reported correctly, it was a miscommunication on their end): "we apparently still have the option to return to last year’s textbooks and use them one more year."
- Textbook purchasing is system wide so this isn’t peculiar to Meadowlark
- Some middle school classes have classroom sets, and then arrangements with the publishers to access the text online — Update 8/26/08 — I received a follow up email that corrected this (I reported correctly, it was a miscommunication on their end): "we have a CD of the book for every book that we purchased, but a sales rep told our folks that the on-line version could be purchased for a fairly small fee."
- Students are able to check books out overnight if they need to
- Those students without at-home internet can use any of the over 40 Winston Net stations located in libraries, rec centers and churches throughout Forsyth County
They also said that they will review this policy at the end of the school year and if it caused problems they’ll determine what changes need to be made.
Like I said this is just the rough version and I’ll wait and see what the specifics turn out to be, but I’d say that in general it’s a good explanation. Those who don’t like this particular prioritization might want to speak up at future board of education meetings. I’ll let you know as soon as I get the details.