August 4, 2008

Textbook Update on Agenda for Fontana Board

By Josh Dulaney

FONTANA - The school board may consider a multimillion-dollar decision that looms in the next two years when it talks about textbooks at its upcoming meeting.

"Every year our board has to approve our curriculum," said Oscar Duenas, associate superintendent of instructional services. "The hearing is open for anyone to come in and discuss the textbooks."

The board will certify that the district has a sufficient amount of standardized books for its students.

But the discussion may segue into the purchase of new language- arts material for kindergarten through eighth grade, officials said.

Books in core subjects such as math and science must be updated every seven years. The district has two years to purchase new language-arts books, Duenas said.

The district spent $4.5 million for its last set of language- arts books for elementary schools, officials said.

The district selects from a list of textbooks approved by the Department of Education, then contacts vendors who present their materials to a committee.

Students will check out new math books for the 2008-09 school year, Duenas said.

The district spent $3.2 million on the latest batch, officials said.

A lot of the new material comes with Web-based software. Such teaching tools help lower costs, Duenas said, because they provide a platform for electronic test-taking.

The state subsidizes the costs of textbooks based on average daily attendance. Duenas estimates the district will purchase between 25,000 and 28,000 new language-arts textbooks.

Vendors typically mark down prices of the books during a pinch in the education budget, Duenas said.

"We thought we weren't going to be able to buy the math books, but the vendor lowered the prices," he said.

Some of the old textbooks are sold to private schools and other organizations.

Otherwise, they're "obsoleted," Duenas said.

The meeting is Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the John D. Piazza Education Center, 9680 Citrus Ave.

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