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Budget cuts lead many districts to consider used textbooks

Revenue shortfalls are facts of life for school districts, and in many districts budget cuts are even threatening an area as fundamental to teaching as textbooks. Increasingly, K-12 administrators are turning to pre-owned textbooks to save money and maintain educational standards.

Virtually every U.S. school district is facing a drop in revenue caused by the economic downturn. Decreased tax revenue is leading to tighter education funding at the state and local level. Recent reports indicate 47 states are facing big budget gaps this year; and at least half the states will be imposing significant cuts in K-12 budgets.

Pre-owned textbooks have proven a strong value regardless of the budget challenges: The average price for a new textbook is about $48, the price of preowned books in good condition is about $29. So using pre-owned textbooks can help districts reduce expenses up to 40 percent while still maintaining the same curriculum quality and providing necessary resources to students.

Innovative districts are using pre-owned textbooks in three ways:

? Implementing a new curriculum using all pre-owned textbooks.

? Filling in textbook shortages resulting from higher registrations.

? Replacing some or all of the 10-20 percent of books that are damaged or lost each year.

A district in suburban Phoenix recently used all three strategies to help manage a $200,000 annual textbook expense. With help from Budgetext, the Coolidge School District reduced its book expense by $30,000 and redirected those saved funds to other endangered programs and purchases.

"The books served many purposes," says Curriculum Coordinator Janine Balding. "We filled in for lost or damaged books, we’re furnishing a new school with used books and we may get used books for new adoption materials. Every penny saved can be used for another purchase."


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