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posted: 4/10/2014 5:30 AM

Dist. 200 approves purchase of print, digital textbooks

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Despite recent talk of possibly replacing outdated textbooks with digital devices, the Wheaton Warrenville District 200 board of education approved the purchase of 1,025 new print and digital geometry books Wednesday.

District officials said the cost of one paper textbook and a six-year license to access a digital version of the same textbook online amounts to about $86. That, coupled with shipping costs, resulted in a cost of more than $94,000 to replace the current books, which are more than a decade old.

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"They are a little outdated and they're not aligned to Common Core and the new rigor. That's the main reason why we're doing this," said Faith Dahlquist, assistant superintendent for educational services.

While there was interest in supplying students with electronic devices they could use to access digital books, funding isn't readily available to do that right now, Dahlquist said.

"When the consumer price index came back we knew that we weren't going to be getting in near as much money as we had," she said. "The district is going through how to cut over a million dollars, so purchasing devices for all students that will be taking geometry just wasn't feasible."

Dahlquist said every student will have access to a hard copy of the book, but district staff members are anticipating some students will opt to use only the digital copy.

"I don't know that all teachers and students will choose to lug the geometry book around," she said, adding, however, that it seems like there is still demand for both print and digital versions of textbooks, depending on the learner's preference.

Most students take geometry during their freshman year of high school, but some of the books will be distributed to students who enroll in the class during middle school.

In coming weeks, the board of education will be asked to approve the purchase of new Algebra II books and high school-level English language learner books.

Before the economic downturn, textbooks were mostly reviewed on a 7-year cycle, Dahlquist said.

"We're not on a regular cycle like we were prior to the budget cuts. It's really looking at what are the most urgent needs," she said, adding that last year the board approved the purchase of elementary math books because the district was aligning those classes with Common Core.

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