School Committee votes to throw out old books

by Tim Kane

By Alex Ross
Turley Correspondent

SOUTH HADLEY- A series of outdated recently replaced textbooks at the Michael E Smith Middle School could be thrown away if other avenues of clearance, such as giving or selling them, prove to be unsuccessful. The option for such disposal was approved by the Committee by a 5-0 vote at their May 26 meeting. Despite the decision, both the school and the Committee hope that other options can be explored first.
The textbooks are part of the Connected Mathematics Program (CMP), and are paperback modules that lay out exercises in critical thinking for students. Textbooks in schools across the country are regularly replaced and updated as facts, information, and methods of learning in given subjects change, prompting schools that are able to buy the newer texts in order to teach the most relevant material.
Since the CMP textbooks for students in grades 5-8, were replaced last summer with the CMP II edition, the older texts, which are as much as nine years old, have been merely gathering dust since the school hasn’t been able to find anyone interested in accepting or purchasing them. The Middle School has made overtures to other area schools, and at least four organizations that sell or provide used textbooks. Once a South Hadley School receives new updated textbooks, it is customary for them to go before the school committee to announce what they plan to do with the old books.
“They [Middle School staff] tried to sell them to some of the groups that buy used text books, they tried to donate them to area schools, and some of the organizations that take used books,” said Christine Sweklo, assistant superintendent of South Hadley Schools.
“At this point in time they have found nobody who is interested in that particular book.” Sweklo also says that most local schools that use the CMP text in their curriculum, have already purchased the newer version.
Talk Show Queen Oprah Winfrey was even e-mailed to see if she would be interested in the books for any of the schools she sponsors. So far there has been no response by Winfrey.
According to School Business Administrator Candice Walczak, the South Hadley School Department is now seeking to broadcast an e-mail to schools across the state to see if they are interested in the text books.