Jefferson County Public Schools officials say many schools are not spending textbook funds that are allocated to them, which has led the district to reconsider the amount of per-student textbook funding its providing to schools this year.
Over the past several years the Kentucky Department of Education has not supported textbook funding, leaving local school districts to pick up the tab.
This week the JCPS board discussed the district’s $1.2 billion budget, and board member Chuck Haddaway asked, “are we seeing, for lack of a better word, a crisis on textbooks inventory in our schools, or are we adequately funding what the schools are asking for?”
JCPS chief financial officer Cordelia Hardin says despite having a larger burden on the district’s budget, there has been unspent carry over textbook money in recent years.
That amount this last year was around $1.9 million, Hardin says.
Some schools are using all the money that’s allocated to them, according to JCPS data. But in total only around 55 percent of textbook funds were used last school year.
While the district had around $5.7 million available for schools, they only spent around half of that. So the district will allocate less per-pupil spending this year, district officials say.
Further, Hardin says over the last two years she’s not aware of any schools being under-funded.
“I have not received any requests from schools saying that we have not funded them appropriately, that they cannot provide textbooks to their students,” she told the school board.
But some schools rely on textbook money to fund other resources, which they’re allowed to do.
Breckenridge-Franklin Elementary School spent less than half of the amount it was allocated last year, according to JCPS data. Principal Allyson Vitato says that’s because the school is saving its textbook money, which carries over from year to year.
“We use our textbook money for things like the Crosswalk Coach [a supplemental education program] and things like that. We are saving money currently to try to invest in a math program,” she says.
At Seneca High School, principal Michelle Dillard says this year enrollment is up, so she’s likely to use more of her textbook funds.
But it may not be for books, she says.