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Home News-Telegram News School board approves textbooks, software

School board approves textbooks, software

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Sulphur Springs school trustees approved spending of nearly $97,000 for literacy software, textbooks and instructional materials and roughly $34,400 for a new vehicle for the career and technology department during a special called meeting this week. 

The district approved spending $21,539 for READ 180 software upgrades and $20,901 on System 44 licensing.

According to Sulphur Springs Independent School District Superintendent Michael Lamb, the district has 72 READ 180 software licenses that were bought a few years ago. The district will update those programs licensed for middle school, then spend the rest for System 44, which works with READ 180.

According to Scholastic’s website, READ 180 is a comprehensive reading intervention system complete with curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional development designed to raise reading achievement for struggling readers in grades four through 12 and up. Targeting students reading two or more years below grade-level, READ 180 uses “adaptive technology to individualize instruction for students and provide powerful data for differentiation to teachers.” It provides strategic reading intervention in three stages, each with age-appropriate content for students in grades four to 12.

System 44 Next Generation was designed “to be used as a standalone program or integrated seamlessly with READ 180.”

Trustees Wednesday also approved a proclamation to adopt math and science textbooks. Lamb said the district in years past notified the state of the number of textbooks needed for a certain subject and grade level and the state sent the and the state sent the books. Technology was handled similarly.

“Not long ago, the way we ordered texts was schools said we need 300 math books for eighth grade. Austin took care of it and would send them,” he said.

A couple of years ago, however, the state “got out of the textbook business,” opting instead to designate a certain amount to an Instructional Materials Allotment fund, then designating a certain amount to schools. Districts now decide what “textbooks,” technology or instructional materials to use to teach curriculum and spend their money to buy qualifying items, Lamb explained.

“They said we give you the money and you get what you want. The first year or two there were not many large adoptions,” Lamb explained.

SSISD had $239,484.58 in IMA funds carried over for the 2013-14 school year. The district expects to receive $332,485.13 in the 2014-15 school year. The district bought computers, licensing, Windows software items and other instructional materials this year. Various subjects are up for adoption in curriculum materials (formerly exclusively textbooks and related materials) to be used for roughly six to eight years, with a new subject up for approval annually.

This time, the “textbooks” are for kindergarten through eighth grade math, kindergarten through 12th grade science, and career and technology education classes.

The district had $239,000 from last year’s amount. The account with the new IMA award will be “refilled” in September. At that time, district officials expect to spend the funds in the account, leaving $25,000 to carry over for things like workbooks or other items needed. That will leave about $54,278 still unpaid from this year’s adoptions. That would ensure the district is able to purchase all of the textbooks and materials needed for classes. If the district doesn’t allocate additional funding above the IMA amount, SSISD wouldn’t be able to get some of the adopted books. Because math and science are core courses that affect all levels, the cost is more.

Trustees Wednesday approved “funding for Proclamation 2014-adoption of textbooks for K-8 Math, K-12 Science, CTE & Technology.”

SSISD trustees also approved Brian Toliver Ford’s bid of $34,391.60 for a new truck to replace the current vehicle used primarily by the agriculture department, which would then be used by maintenance and grounds director Dan Froneberger as he drives throughout the district during the course of his work.

“The CTE vehicle, the ag truck, is not the greatest truck in the world. They’ve requested that it be replaced. Our answer was we’ll see if the funds are available at the end of the year. If not, we’d bring it to you next year,” Lamb said.

He explained that in looking at the CTE fund at the end of the year, there was money leftover in that budget that needed to be spent on CTE expenses. The district receives money based on each child’s attendance. The district receives extra funding, 1.35 per student compared to 1 per student, for students enrolled in CTE courses. With CTE money remaining that had yet to be spent at the end of the year, district officials recommended that it be spent on a new truck that could be used for CTE programs.

The district received three bids, and administrators recommended accepting the $34.391.60 bid from Brian Toliver Ford and using leftover CTE funds to pay for it. Trustees voted unanimously, with Leesa Toliver abstaining from voting, in favor of the recommended bid.

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