Technology Bridges Budget Gap by Reducing Textbook Availability
Pasco County students may not have as many books to take home in the fall.
Technology may lighten the budget as well as students’ backpacks in August, but a full transition to digital books in some classrooms is raising questions in Pasco.
At the last school board meeting, Land O’ Lakes High social studies teacher Robert Marsh said he'd recently learned that he would only get a set of books for use in the classroom, with students expected to access the text online to complete assignments outside of class.
Marsh said his concern was for those students who don’t have computer access at home and those with parents whose work schedules make it difficult to provide transportation to public libraries for the purpose of completing an assignment .
“Those kids on the bottom are going to end up with a problem,” Marsh told the board. “These are the ones you’re spending all that money on and then you’re taking this away from them.”
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
The decision to transition to classroom textbook sets was based in part on a $1.4 million gap in the budget between the district’s needs and the anticipated allocation for instructional material purchases, district spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said.
Other factors also impacted the district’s ordering decisions.
“The legislature changed the statute and is requiring districts to spend at least 50 percent of their instructional materials funding on electronic resources by 2015, ” Romagnoli said. “Additionally, we also have to ensure that our materials integrate the Common Core Standards and help prepare students for meeting these new, more rigorous expectations."
Materials required for new advanced middle school courses and a requirement to address college and career readiness for seniors needing remediation also factored into rising costs, Romagnoli said.
To bridge the gap, a committee was created to identify “high-quality” products that would allow the district to meet the new statutory requirements in the most cost-effective manner, she said.
The hybrid model was determined to best meet the district’s needs within the budget, and would also be a step toward the digital transition required by 2015, Romagnoli said.
And what about the students Marsh fears will be left behind?
“Each school should have a few extra copies of each textbook, which can be given to students who do not have access to technology at home,” Romagnoli said. “Also, schools have some funding that they can use to purchase additional textbooks, if necessary."
What do you think about the transition to digital books? Let us know in the comments section.