School Board approves $500K in new textbooks

Money comes from funds left over at the end of the budget year

Posted: Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Juneau School District has turned the page on its old math books and is ready to open a new chapter of math curriculum.

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The School Board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to adopt the McDougal Littell's middle school math program and its high school math series. John Wahl, a district administrator on the Secondary Mathematics Program Evaluation Committee, said the new curriculum provides more up-to-date and relevant examples, better use of technology and is better aligned with the state grade-level expectations.

After voting on the curriculum, the School Board voted to use "end of year money" to purchase about $500,000 worth of textbooks and support materials from McDougal Littell. This was money that wasn't spent from the budget for the 2006 fiscal year, which runs through June.

The math committee provided a sample of math books from Juneau-Douglas High School to show the School Board the beaten-up books students are using. Wahl lifted up one book to show the board that it was coming apart at its spine.

"You can see the imminent need of materials in the high school," he said.

David Means, director of administrative services for the district, said he did not know exactly how much "end of year money" will be left over when the new fiscal year begins in July. He said he believes it is "capable of covering" the roughly $512,000 the district hopes to spend on the books and supporting materials.

JDHS math teacher Brenda Overcast told the School Board that the new curriculum and books are up-to-date and have questions, examples and lessons that students will be better able to relate to. She said the books are more helpful to students, teachers and parents.

"It's the new stuff, and it's awesome," Overcast said.

Donna Johnson, also a math teacher at JDHS, told the board the new books are very interesting and cover a wide variety of subjects.

"The new stuff coming out is really in-tune with current teaching practices," she said.

The purchase from McDougal Littell also includes 18 sets of graphing calculators, 30 digital projectors and an Internet tutoring program.

Overcast said the new curriculum and textbooks allow students to learn and study using technology that will help engage them by keeping them entertained while learning. She said the content of the books will be available on the Internet. Tests can be taken on the computer, and lessons have computer presentations to help teachers present the material.

"It's stuff that I can't develop," Overcast said. "It takes a lot of time, and they already have it for you."

JDHS, Yaakoosge Daakahidi alternative high school, Johnson Youth Center, Floyd Dryden Middle School and Dzantiki'i Heeni Middle School will change to the new curriculum for the 2007 school year. Wahl said the students will have an easy transition between middle school and high school math courses because they will be learning from textbooks by the same publisher that have a similar style of presenting the material.

"It really is a continuous flow," he said.

School Board member Andi Story said she has looked over samples of the new textbooks and likes that they have up-to-date examples she believes will improve the relevancy of the material.

"I was really impressed with the material," she said.

School Board member Julie Morris said prior to voting for the new textbooks that spending the "end of year money" on anything else would be "irresponsible."

"We've been trying to get textbooks for four years," she said.

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