If you were to take almost any textbook we have in Eustace ISD and open the front cover, you will see the words “Property of the State of Texas.” Even people that may have been out of school for some time, such as myself, remember those words stamped inside of each textbook. Well, all that has changed. Of the more dramatic changes coming to public schools, there are few that will have more overall impact than Senate Bill 6.
Senate Bill 6 (SB 6) did several things with regards to textbooks and technology. First, all of the textbooks that are contained within a district are now the property of the district. Second, the procurement process for textbooks has changed dramatically. The state is no longer providing textbooks to districts (except in special circumstances such as large print books or braille books). Third, the state is now providing district with an instructional materials allotment. Finally, districts will now have to balance the need for traditional textbooks with the possibility of providing students with an electronic version of instructional materials.
According to the training sessions from the state, school districts are going to have to move away from the traditional one textbook for each student. This is the way that it has been done in Texas for decades. The state provided the textbooks and other supplemental materials for every district in the state. Now, each district is given a set amount of money to be spent over a two-year period to purchase textbooks, supplemental materials, and technology. Recall in our discussions on school finance that the state eliminated the “Technology Allotment” that districts had received for several years. Now, the technology allotment is included in the Instructional Materials Allotment. Over the past few years, EISD has averaged receiving about $40,000 through the Technology Allotment.
School districts are now going to have to decide which instructional materials are to be updated, how much to allocate to technology, and whether traditional textbooks or electronic materials should be purchased. For the biennium, EISD will receive about $220,000 through the Instructional Materials Allotment. While this may seem like a large amount of money for textbooks and workbooks, if we continue to utilize $40,000 a year for technology related items, that reduces the allotment by $80,0000. So now, we are down to about $140,000 that can be used for textbooks, etc. As a district, we were in need to update the instructional materials in our pre-k classes. We currently have three sections of pre-k. The cost for each instructional kit was about $3,600 for a total of $10,800. Bottom line: instructional materials are expensive and it would not take long to go through $140,000.
As a district, we have already started meeting to prioritize our instructional materials needs. Some materials have already been ordered. One of the good things about the instructional materials allotment is that it can be used to offset the cost of any textbook or instructional material. We will work to make sure that our students have the best instructional materials possible. The Instructional Materials Allotment is a new and, in some ways, complicated component of school business. We will talk more about it in the future. If you have any questions about the Instructional Materials Allotment, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.