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ED 10
Eliminate the State Textbook Depository

Summary

Texas public schools now order, purchase and track textbooks directly from their publishers through the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA’s) electronic materials system. The use of this system should allow TEA to eliminate its State Textbook Depository.

Background

Texas provides school districts and charter schools with annual funding for the purchase of textbooks adopted by the State Board of Education (SBOE). The Texas Education Agency (TEA) administers and operates a State Textbook Depository in Austin, Texas, which once played an important role in the purchase and distribution of public school textbooks. Now, however, schools can order and purchase textbooks directly from the publishers through TEA’s Internet-based electronic materials (EMAT) system.

The number of textbooks a district can order depends upon its student enrollment. For annual textbook orders, each district or charter school can order books sufficient for up to 110 percent of its reported enrollment. Student enrollment is based on the maximum number of students enrolled during the previous school year and/or registered to attend during the next school year. Supplemental orders are based on the actual number of students enrolled when the order is submitted.[1]

EMAT tracks all textbooks that have been ordered or delivered. Order additions and revisions update the system immediately. Because the system is Web-based, TEA’s Textbook Administration Division can track additions or revisions made by school districts or charter schools. A district or charter school that orders textbooks in excess of its allowable maximum, based on enrollment, must return the surplus to the State Textbook Depository or directly to the publishers. EMAT notifies school districts as well as Textbook Administration of such excesses.

EMAT can allow school districts to transfer excess textbooks to other districts, but TEA has not yet used this feature. If excess books are not returned, the school district must reimburse the state for them at their full price. In addition, schools must replace all textbooks lost or otherwise unaccounted for at the end of the school year or reimburse the state.[2]

Depository’s current roles

The use of EMAT has changed the State Textbook Depository’s roles and responsibilities.

While the depository still assists some schools with textbook orders, its current primary function is to receive, store and return excess textbooks to the publishers. By filling orders from school districts with the excess textbooks it receives, the depository helps limit the need for additional copies. It also receives surplus or excess Braille, large-type and audiotape textbooks for students with visual impairments and redistributes them as needed.[3] Finally, the depository also publishes a list of outdated books in its inventory that are still in good shape and can be provided to private entities free of charge.

The State Textbook Depository’s total operating budget for fiscal 2001 was $762,000.[4] According to TEA staff, the value of redistributed materials processed through the State Textbook Depository each year remains fairly constant at about $9 million.[5]

While the State Textbook Depository redistributes a sizeable number of textbooks, this function could be completed simply by requiring individual school districts and charter schools to ship excess textbooks to other school districts or back to the publisher. Shifting this responsibility to the school districts would discourage excessive ordering.

In addition, districts could recycle outdated textbooks just as easily as the depository; districts and charter schools would, for instance, be required to circulate lists of out-of-date textbooks in their inventories to private schools in their areas. The depository’s redistribution responsibilities for Braille, large-type and audiotape textbooks could be transferred to the Region 20 Education Service Center, as it is already the state’s primary translator for such materials.[6]

Recommendation

Eliminate the State Textbook Depository.

TEA could replace the depository’s functions by using EMAT to track district and charter school textbook inventories and requiring school districts and charter schools to ship, store and recycle textbooks.

Fiscal Impact

The reduction estimate includes the elimination of nine full-time equivalent (FTE) positions totaling $282,000 in salary and $80,000 in benefits; $267,000 in general operating funds; and $133,000 in shipping costs that would be assumed by school districts and charter schools.

Fiscal 2004 would be a transition year, allowing adequate time to eliminate the state textbook depository’s assets and educate school districts on new procedures for handling excess, damaged and outdated textbooks.

Fiscal Year Savings to General Revenue Change in FTE's
2004 $0 0
2005 $762,000 -9
2006 $762,000 -9
2007 $762,000 -9
2008 $762,000 -9


Endnotes

[1]Tex. Admin. Code §31.103-§31.106.

[2]Tex. Admin. Code §66.107.

[3]Tex. Admin. Code §66.121-§66.131.

[4]State Textbook Depository Operating Budget provided by Dr. Robert Leos, senior director, Textbook Administration Division, Texas Education Agency, March 12, 2002.

[5]State Textbook Depository Inventory Valuation Report provided by Dr. Robert Leos, senior director, Textbook Administration Division, Texas Education Agency, March 12, 2002.

[6]Interview with Dr. Robert Leos, senior director, Textbook Administration Division, Texas Education Agency, July 16, 2002.