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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Indiana is on track to finally ditch textbook fees

Educator Barnes is an educator and education reporter. She attended school in Indianapolis, K-12, and is a graduate of Purdue University (B.S.) and IUPUI (M.S.). In addition to her work as an educator, she navigates the education system as a parent of identical twin boys.

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In 2018, I reported that eight states had textbook fees. Earlier this year, KPC News reported the number is now seven. Indiana is on track to eliminate these fees and reduce the number to six.

I have identical twin sons who are in the same classes. Their textbook total is the same. This school year, I paid $240.50 per child for a grand total of $481.00.

During this legislative session, $160 million dollars will be set aside annually to cover textbook fees. Textbook fees can include textbooks, curricular materials or online educational programming. This means parents nor school districts have to absorb this cost. As a parent of two 12-year-olds, I need every dime I can keep.

However, I wonder about the unintended consequences of this change. Will the money set aside be enough for school districts? I have worked in various school districts, and my experience has shown me that each school has a different price point of what they are willing to purchase regarding curricular materials.

Some schools require more materials due to students’ academic needs. For example, a student might require a textbook or curricular item for intervention on top of the general curricular materials.

If this money does not cover this, will the needed materials get dropped, or will the school district have to absorb the cost?

Contact Indy Kids Winning reporter Educator Barnes at 317-721-2181 or shawntab@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & TikTok @educatorbarnes.

Educator Barnes’ work is supported through a partnership between Indy Kids Winning and the Indianapolis Recorder. Visit indykidswinning.com to learn more.

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