HISD Waits For the Fate Of Textbook Funding

Like every other school district in Texas, the HISD is waiting to see if lawmakers will somehow come up with money for new textbooks in the next budget. This week the Texas Senate and House revealed that neither chamber's "base" budget currently includes money for new instructional materials. As David Pitman reports, the HISD has a backup plan in case the cash doesn't show up.

This isn't the first time money for new books is nowhere to be found in early versions of the state budget.  That money is typically restored in the final spending plan.   But there's greater concern this year, because the budget troubles run so deep, and cut across every agency. 

Nicole Waresmith is the Senior Manager of Textbook Operations for the Houston Independent School District.  She says if money for new books doesn't materialize, students will keep using the older books — even for subjects in which the standards are changing, like science.

"It does not look like we're going to get new science materials this year.  We do have access to updated materials online, where we can go in and print those materials off."

Waresmith says not getting any new books at all is a worst-case scenario.  In the meantime, she says the district is preparing as if some, or perhaps all, of the textbook money will end up in the budget.

"So we're ready to go.  We're ready for the April opening date of the state's textbook ordering system, in the event the funding does come through.  So we'll experience not a delay in getting the new materials for the next school year as much as possible."

Waresmith says if book funding isn't restored until late summer, the district will start the year with the old textbooks, then swap them out with new materials as they arrive.  That typically takes about six weeks after ordering. She's encouraging students, parents, and teachers to let their state representatives know how important it is to set aside money for new books.

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David Pitman

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