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Monday, August 22, 2005

Ind. Gov't. - Indiana textbook fees, and a possibly relevant pending appeal

An AP story in the Louisville Courier Journal is headlined "Indiana among 10 states with textbook fees." It reports:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana's constitution promises a "free and equal" public education, but don't suggest that to the parents who must pay $100 or more in textbook fees each year for each child enrolled in school.

Indiana is one of only 10 states that does not fund textbooks for students in kindergarten through grade 12.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Suellen Reed long has lobbied to change that, but it's not likely to happen any time soon in a state trying to dig out from under a budget deficit. An Indiana Department of Education study in 2001-02 found that funding all textbooks would cost the state as much as $80 million a year.

"That's a few years old, too, so with inflation and the rising textbook costs, that number is probably a bit higher now," department spokesman Jason Bearce said.

Families whose finances qualify them for the federal school lunch program, permitting either free or reduced-price meals, also receive state funding for some or all of their textbook fees.

But that takes care of only about 20 percent of the state's families with students. * * *

A study released Aug. 16 by the federal Government Accountability Office indicated that textbook costs have risen at more than twice the rate of inflation during the past two decades. Some of the increase is because texts are supplemented with multimedia materials.

The LA Times yesterday reported on the GAO Report and high textbook costs. Here is a link to the GAO Report itself, titled "College Textbooks: Enhanced Offerings Appear to Drive Recent Price Increases."

After reading the AP story this morning, I checked on the status of Nagy v. Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corp., the school fees case argued before our Supreme Court on Nov. 23rd, 2004. I checked the docket and saw nothing new since the oral argument. Here is a link to the most recent (12/11/04) ILB entry on Nagy. Also see these entries from 11/24/04, 8/18/04, and 5/28/04 (this is the link to the now vacated CA opinion, it is the 5th - and last - opinion summarized and also includes quotes from news reports at the time).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 22, 2005 07:16 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions | Indiana Government