Carson High School Principal Glen Adair told school board members Tuesday night that he purchased a total of 2,666 new textbooks this year, 500 of which support main curriculum.
Saying there are "plenty of books," Adair was responding to critics of a proposed $18 million bond issue who say more money should be allocated to textbooks.
Some of the textbooks are limited to classroom use, so they can't be taken home, Adair said, but each student has access to a book.
"Some teachers just use the textbook as a resource," he said. "Every kid at Carson High has access to a book - probably a few more than they want."
Opponents of the school bond - aimed at fixing parking lots, buying computers and replacing locks on classroom doors, among other projects - argue those projects will not improve education.
"It's not what you're doing with the facilities, it's what you're doing with their brains that matters," said Nannette Moffett, host of a local television show, "Another Point of View."
"Kids are flexible," Moffett said. "I don't think they care that much about cracked pavement. I don't think the heat bothers them." Part of the bond money would be spent on air-conditioning classroom buildings.
Supporters, however, say the bond debate isn't about textbooks, which are funded through the Legislature.
"I would like to see the focus of this bond off of the things that can't be done, to the things that can be done," said school board trustee John McKenna.
District Director of Operations Mike Mitchell said the environment plays a large role in a student's ability to learn.
"Common sense says - and there have been studies conducted that prove - that kids perform better in areas with comfortable temperatures with reasonable lighting and reasonable acoustics," Mitchell said. "Private enterprises provide good environments for their workers because they know it raises productivity. It's critical to their success that we provide a pleasant environment."
Mitchell said cracked pavement and holes in the concrete also create a safety hazard.
"It's our charge to have our facilities in good condition," he said. "We're protecting the taxpayers' pockets from the liability."
Moffett questioned why the district has not maintained the facilities to prevent the need for large renovations.
"How did the pavement get so bad that we need an $18 million dollar bond?" she asked. "These things are certainly not going to do anything about our quality of education."
Mitchell said the district has maintained the old buildings and systems along the way. He said replacing the antiquated systems will save money in the future.
"We just don't want to continue to pump money into these old systems," he said.
Moffett argues the district should focus on the basics of education, namely more textbooks.
"I don't believe that's going to cut the mustard," Moffett said of book purchases by the district. "Students need to be able to take all of their textbooks home."
However, Adair said some books can cost up to $100 each, giving a student up to $500 worth of books. He said it is wiser to keep some of the more expensive books in the classroom.
Mark Sattler, a senior at Carson High, said he has always had enough books.
"Whether it be a classroom text or a take-home book, I've always had access to a book," he told the board. "In all of my years, I've never had a problem with books."
Moffett also complained that too much emphasis is being placed on technology, with $1 million to buy a "smart board" for every four teachers at the high school.
A smart board is a large computer screen, visible to the entire class, on which the teacher can write, save lessons and hook up to the Internet.
"Adding this kind of technology could make our students desk potatoes," Moffett said. "They need to get back to the basics, and the basics is textbooks, reading, speaking and memorizing."
stimated cost of bond projects:
Creating safer schools by updating phones and intercoms and replacing lock systems - $3.3 million
Upgrading and replacing outdated building systems and materials - $12.4 million
Improving technology - $1 million
Additional science labs - $1.2 million