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Petition calls for more science books

November 17, 1997

Petition calls for more science books

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Not having their own science textbooks to take home is hurting students in Berkeley County, according to teachers that presented a petition to the board of education Monday night.

"We don't feel we can help the children just from looking at their notes," Rosemont Elementary School teacher Donna Yost told the board members. She said note taking in science classes takes up too much time and the county should provide each student with a textbook, rather than classroom sets.

Yost, along with fellow Rosemont teachers Cynthia Baynham and Colleen Miller, presented the board with a petition signed last spring by 362 teachers from most of the county's schools.

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Four years ago the county's Science Adoption Committee decided to buy classroom sets of texts, rather than enough for each student. Director of Instruction Sam Bland said after the meeting that the committee made the decision based on a state mandate that 50 percent of class time be devoted to hands-on instruction.

"We had a limited budget," said Joyce Hobbs, an instructional specialist for the school system. She said in the future, science classes will be more technology-driven with a greater reliance on instructional materials, computers and equipment, rather than textbooks.

"The jury is still out," Hobbs said of the decision. She said there are instances where teachers and students are still adjusting and some parents are not satisfied.

"I don't disagree with hands-on, but I believe students should have a textbook in hand, too," Yost said after the meeting.

Bland said the county is not scheduled to adopt new science textbooks and instructional materials until 1999. It will, however, be a two-year adoption period with the county having two years worth of state funding to purchase books and materials.

"My perspective is that the students need textbooks," Superintendent Manny Arvon told Yost.

"I myself fought this battle when I was the parent of a freshman at the high school," board president Bill Sonnik said. He said students did not check out texts, even before tests.

"Kids aren't going to bother to get the textbooks because the test will be on the notes" they take in class, Baynham said after the meeting.

"We have to give strong consideration when the parents and teachers come to us and tell us they think it is extremely important each child have their own textbook to take home," said Frank Aliveto, the assistant superintendent for instruction.

Aliveto said he would meet with the committee in January to review the decision.

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