JCPS rules, AP courses make textbook distribution and replacement complicated

One cause of the stress at the beginning of every school year is textbooks. The book room is full of students who didn’t receive their textbooks. In the second semester, however, a new worry comes up. What if the textbooks get lost or stolen?

A single new textbook could cost over $100, and the textbook budget is already tight. “Every school gets the same funding from the state for textbooks, but Manual has to get textbooks for every class,” Mr. Greg Kuhn (Assistant Principal) said. Manual offers more classes than most Jefferson County high schools, so the budget doesn’t always cover the necessary school supplies.

According to Mr. Kuhn, new books are bought every year for the classes that don’t have enough for everyone. The books that are old and worn are still in use because of the rising number of students joining popular AP elective classes.

“College-level books are more expensive than high school textbooks. We have a lot of AP classes, with a lot of interested students,” Mr. Kuhn said.

So, if a student loses a textbook, he or she has to pay to replace it — and according to JCPS rules, they have to go through the school to do so, even if a less expensive copy is available elsewhere, such as through Amazon. The reason is that there is too great of a chance that the student will buy the wrong version of a textbook. “We don’t make our own textbook rules. They are set by the school board,” said Ms. Debby Kennedy, Manual’s order clerk. According to Ms. Kennedy, if a student buys the wrong book, then the responsibility would fall on Mr. Kuhn and Ms. Kennedy.

According to Mr. Kuhn, there are other, cheaper ways to go when it comes to buying textbooks for every student. “Most books come with a class set of disks with the downloadable version on them. While the disks are more economical, it is the teachers’ decision in the end,” Mr. Kuhn said.

It is possible to buy a class set of disks without the purchase of textbooks, though no teachers have ever made this choice. Coach Stacy Pendleton (Social Studies) did, however, give his students a CD to accompany their textbooks, and he also has a set of textbooks that he keeps in his classroom. “I don’t want you all to have to carry around an extra book and risk losing it when you could just download it onto your computer and be done with it,” Coach Pendleton told his students at the beginning of the school year.

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James Miller is RedEye’s faculty adviser. This is Mr. Miller’s fifth year as staff adviser, 11th year at Manual, and 14th year as a JCPS teacher. In a previous life, he worked at WHAS-11 and the Courier-Journal.