Legislative failure forcing schools to fund their own books

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OKLAHOMA - The state legislature’s elimination of all funds designated for school textbooks has forced the Oklahoma State Department of Education to recommend a one-year delay of textbook selection - $33 million to be exact.

“It was a complete and utter surprise that there would not be funding for textbook and other instructional materials for students,” said Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“For Millwood, being a small district, that could be $70,000 or so for us,” said Christine Harrison.

She’s the director of Teaching and Learning for the Millwood School District.

In addition to workbooks, textbooks are already limited with just a set of 30 given to each teacher.

“The books remain with the teachers so that the next 30 students will receive those same books,” she said. "To not be able to send a student with a textbook to take home aligned with what’s being taught in the classroom, that’s difficult.”

Especially for elementary school students in the state who use workbooks.

“We allow students to write in those books, so those books can no longer be used for the upcoming year. So, we are still trying to figure out how to pay for students to get the new books again this year."

Hofmeister said the failure is on the legislative level.

“We have new standards in math and language arts, but we don’t have the ability to replace texts that have been put on hold. So, we really are seeing 12- and 13-year-old textbooks,” Hofmeister said.

She said it’s going to be up to schools to raise money for their own textbooks.

Harrison said that’s not an option for her district.

“Raising funds, that sounds so easy to do, but it is so difficult to do. Because, the budget is not only bad in schools, the budget is bad throughout the community,” Harrison said.

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