Students to start school year without textbooks

July 6, 2011 at 2:06 a.m.

Just when Texas school districts are done playing the "wait and see" game with state budget cuts, another unknown looms over the school year: When will districts receive their textbooks?

Although Victoria schools begin classes Aug. 22, the district's newly-adopted textbooks will most likely not arrive until September. The delays are thanks to uncertain state funding and a new ordering system approved by the Legislature in special session.

"I think there's no question - the teachers will be having to do some adaptations if they've already started their lesson plans," said Diane Boyett, VISD's communications specialist.

But she said she's confident the hold-up won't have a huge affect on students, even as they prepare for the first year of the new standardized State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test.

"Any delays in the instruction side of it has an impact, but I think that I give our teachers a lot of credit to being able to adapt," Boyett said.

Senate Bill 6 set up an instructional materials allotment for each district, which allows schools to purchase textbooks and technology through the appropriated state funds via the Texas Education Agency. In the past, schools simply submitted their orders to the state, which then did the purchasing.

DeEtta Culbertson, a TEA spokesperson, said the agency is working to reconfigure its system, which they hope to have running in the first week of August. Depending on the volume of orders, schools may then have an idea of when their books will arrive.

But even when the materials are sent to VISD, the school will then have to barcode and inventory the shipment.

"That further delays things. Just because it gets shipped doesn't necessarily mean it's going straight into the hands of the kids right away," Boyett said.

VISD has already ordered replacement books for currently in-use materials. The books adopted in spring - mostly language arts, spelling, handwriting and English as a Second Language books - are caught in the hold-up.

But the district will roll with continued state punches.

"The good news is, the textbooks are not the critical part of education," Boyett said. "They supplement what the teacher is teaching, and so the teachers can get started."

Teachers who rely on student workbooks - namely kindergarten through second-grade - will most likely have to make the most changes for at least the first few weeks of the school year.

Boyett said the district has yet to notify or advise teachers on the textbook delay, as it waits on more definitive answers from TEA.

According to Boyett, Betty Adamson, who coordinates textbook efforts for VISD, warned about delays that could be extended because some publishers have yet to print the books, as they, too, wait for orders from the TEA.



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