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After budget cuts, students unable to take textbooks home

Posted September 28, 2012

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— Micheal Warner just started at Bunn High School this year. His big adjustment is trying to figure out ninth-grade algebra.

"I got an F in this class right now," said the 14 year old. "But I'm trying my hardest just to bring it up right now."

Those are words that mom, Victoria Warner, hears loud and clear.

"He couldn't learn at the fast speed like everybody else," Victoria Warner said. "So I asked him to bring home his algebra book, so that we could go over it."

But bringing the book home turned out to be a tough assignment. Like other school districts across the state, Franklin County Schools has seen a sharp decline in its budget for textbooks, prompting a new policy that restricts what kind of books students can take home overnight. High-priced textbooks, such as algebra, aren't always allowed on the list.

"It all depends on how much the book costs, how many students we have taking the course," said Joe Baisley, spokesman for Franklin County Schools.

It all comes back to how much the state legislature sets aside for textbook purchases. Statewide, the budget for textbooks has dropped in the last four years from $61 million to $22 million in four years.

Franklin County received $270,000 for textbooks in the 2009-10 school year. That number has dropped to $123,000 for the current school year. That's about $14 per student, per year for textbooks.

"You can't even get gas for $14," Victoria Warner said.

If Franklin County parents want their children to bring a textbook home, school officials said, they need to make a request with the school.

"If they have the extra books, they definitely work with the parent," Baisley said.

Victoria Warner just wishes things were like the good old days.

"It's not just my son," Victoria Warner said. "It's everybody. Everybody needs to bring home a book."

School officials say there are other resources students can use at home, including digital and online resources.

Micheal Warner was eventually able to take the algebra book home, but not before his mom says she spent $100 and bought a copy herself.

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