Some District 122 reading materials haven't been updated since 2000, but the Board of Education unanimously approved a $600,000 purchase of new language arts programs on Wednesday night.
Associate Superintendent Peggy Manville met with about 40 teachers for two days this spring to talk about language arts curriculum updates. Improving language arts programming was a goal of the board's that was discussed in the fall.
Previously, the district avoided purchasing a new program because administrators and teachers felt there wasn't anything good enough on the market. In Storytown, the district has a proven winner that includes reading, spelling, writing, grammar and vocabulary, compared to now, when multiple programs are used. Manville said other district in the area use Storytown.
“They’re all saying the same thing, that it’s finally pulled everything together for the teachers and saved them planning time," Manville said.
During the language arts summit, Manville heard feedback from some teachers who had already used Storytown and were excited about expanding the use.
“Teachers were bringing it to me and saying 'We’ve been using this and we love it,'" Manville said. "Many did their own research … you want the teachers driving the choice because then you know it’s going to be used and used well.”
The board approved $600,000 to purchase this program, but there’s the potential for $150,000 more in purchases over the next two years, which would include $100,000 for a new grammar program for grades 1-6 and $50,000 for a new writing program. The district will also get $900,000 worth of additional materials for free for signing this deal.
These purchases would not affect tax dollars, because the money is coming from the district's $17 million reserve fund balance. Business manager Harold Huang explained that if lawmakers pass the Senate’s budget, which includes extra money for education, the state could make another payment to the district that was not planned. The payment would be about $1 million, which would more than cover the language arts program.
President Nick DiSandro was happy with the plan, saying that after math and science books were updated in previous years to be more current, it makes sense to update reading programs.
“Their reading skills need to be current to understand it,” he said.