A Carson High School mom kept wondering why the dust jackets that she had bought for her daughter's textbooks were still in the wrappers, weeks after school started.
"For days they just sat there," she said. "And when I asked why, she said, 'Mom I only have two textbooks to cover.'"
A revised high school curriculum and an oversight in ordering more textbooks are the reasons for the shortage at Carson High School, Principal Glen Adair said.
The school's ninth- and tenth-grade math curriculum was revised this year and new books were needed, Adair said.
The books were ordered weeks ago, but Adair was unsure Friday if they had arrived.
All ninth-graders are being urged to take physical science and tenth-graders are being urged to take biology but there are not enough books to give each student one. They have to be shared, Adair said.
"When you make these changes, there is a shift in the books and that's what caught us out," Adair said. "We anticipated the larger (freshmen class) and the course changes, but we didn't check to see if we had enough books."
The parent said her daughter had not received a textbook for English and health studies either and the curriculum for these subjects had not been revised.
Students who need books for class work do not go without, but it's impossible to give each student a textbook to take home in every subject.
"There are class sets for everyone. You just can't take them home because we have more students than books," Adair said.
The books cost between $40 and $80, Adair said, and in some cases students return the books in bad shape and at times they are not returned.
If a textbook is needed for homework and there aren't enough for students to take home, the work is either completed in class or sections of the book are photocopied, Adair said.
Furthermore, not every teacher relies on textbooks. Class work may be supplemented with notes, a lecture or research, Adair said.
Colette Burau, parent of a Carson High School freshmen, disagreed.
"I think if you take a class, then you need books to take home. It's essential. What if you're child gets sick? How do you catch up?"
Burau said that her son is fortunate; he doesn't struggle in school. But every student has the odd bad day when he or she might not take good notes.
"To take notes for 50 minutes and without a textbook for reference, I think that's a bit much to ask of a ninth-grader, particularly in science. It's a subject that is so alien to some students," she said.
The math and science curriculums were revised to accommodate the tougher math portion of the high school proficiency exam, Adair said.
Science is currently included in the exam, but not until the 2001 school year will students be required to pass the science portion of the exam to obtain their diploma.
"We're trying to structure it (the curriculum) to get students into more advanced classes," Adair said. "But at the same time students need to acquire the rigorous basics."