SAUCON VALLEY Board gridlocked over textbook versions
An array of options were on the table regarding textbooks for the board April 10, and the decision - between hard cover textbooks, digital copy textbooks or a combination of both for the new Advanced Placement Psychology course - became controversial.
The books would be used by approximately 60 students at the high school beginning in the fall.
High School Principle Beth Guarriello took a poll of what students wanted. The poll numbers showed mixed results with 57.3 percent preferring hard copy books and 42.7 percent preferring digital copy books.
Guarriello did state a major obstacle to the digital only option. She noted students generally take notes with iPads but because of the small size of the iPads, it’s not feasible to use split screens and students would have to open and close both the note taking section and the digital book to bounce back and forth between the two. She called the process “cumbersome.”
Guarriello also added that teachers overwhelmingly prefer a hard copy and digital copy combination rather than one or the other.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Mowrer Benda provided the board various options to consider. These options involved hard textbooks only, digital books only or combinations of both. The combination choice would include both a hard copy, digital copy and additional educational resources and activities to use as a learning tools for students. These resources would include videos, quizzes and additional readings.
With the combination option, the board could choose to provide all the students with access to both the hard copy and digital copy versions or a less expensive choice to give half the students hard copies only and the other half with digital copies only.
Guarriello had concerns with the combination of half hard copies and half digital. She said “I’m concerned about equity, who has access to everything and who doesn’t?”
Ultimately, the board narrowed the choices down to using a combination of both versions. The decision then became a choice of either giving all the students access to both versions or opting for the less expensive half and half option.
Of the seven out of nine board members present at the meeting, the vote resulted 4-3 in favor of giving all the students both hard and digital copies. However, solicitor Mark W. Fitzgerald stated the board needed at least five votes for a majority to pass under the nine-persons board. Due to the impasse, the topic was tabled for the next meeting.