New funding law could raise cost of textbooks

Sep 15, 2014 by

Thirty pounds of math – the weight of the “California Go Math” textbook in six large-print volumes – arrived for 6th grader Bethany Hughes in July, hefty tomes whose delivery from a warehouse in West Sacramento to her home in Westminster represented a victory in a small but heated dispute over the new education funding law.

For decades, the California Department of Education has produced and distributed textbooks for blind or visually impaired students out of its 50,000-square-foot warehouse. Bethany’s mother, Linda Hughes, said that every June a resource specialist at the Orange County Office of Education requests large-print textbooks for Bethany, who has optic nerve atrophy. In July, the books arrive by the boxful, at no cost to the district or county, not even for postage, which is waived by the stamp “Free Matter for the Blind.”

But under the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula, spending authority has shifted from Sacramento to school districts, including the responsibility for choosing and purchasing general education textbooks. Now some lawmakers are balking at the idea that the state continue to pay the cost of braille and large-print textbooks, rather than districts.

Yet charging districts for textbooks for visually impaired or blind students is an expensive proposition. “The reality is the price of these materials is tremendous,” said Erika Hoffman, legislative advocate for the California School Boards Association, which said school districts could ill afford an increase in costs.

If districts were left on their own to develop braille textbooks, they would pay $24,000 to have the 530-page “My Math, Grade 2, Volume 1″ transcribed, formatted, inserted with tactile objects and proofread, the Department of Education said in response to an inquiry. With the benefit of the state’s power to bid and negotiate contracts, the state can produce the same book for $15,000. A district would pay $330 for the large-print version of the math book, compared to the $38 the state would pay.

via New funding law could raise cost of textbooks | EdSource.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.