Friday, January 13, 2023

Book Rental Fund in Indiana - Olivia Denny

             Book Rental Fund in Indiana

Indiana is one of the few states that doesn’t offer free book rentals in America. Only 7 states still charge for book rentals. Book rentals per student is usually around the $225 mark and this includes Chromebook rental fees. For families with multiple children, this could become a burden they cannot financially take on. The fund being passed would be a total of 160 million dollars towards funding Indiana families. This fund still has to be passed by the legislature.

When the phrase “free education” is said, it never actually means free education. Think about how much goes into education directly out of families' pockets every year. The tuition fees, the book rental fees, lunch money, money for field trips, school pictures, yearbooks, AP classes, the list goes on. While a lot of these fees are not 100% necessary, most families still pay them. 

These bills start adding up, especially for lower income families. There is assistance available, but only for the families that meet the certain requirements. The percentage of students that meet the requirements at Mooresville overall is 39.5%, and the percentage in the high school is 30.9%. The families meeting the requirements for reduced textbooks still don’t receive completely free books in some cases. If these families cannot pay the remainder of the fee, schools have to work with attorneys. In one county alone, the total remaining fees were $455,917. 

Kids are expensive. Most parents are doing their best to get by and provide their children with certain luxuries. If book rentals were no longer something families had to worry about, so much weight would be lifted off the shoulders of middle to low class households. 

“It would be one less stress for the parent when the fees are due, "Mooresville High School treasurer Nena Brock said. "You also have other charges, pictures, a lot of activities, if they could do away with book fees that would be less stress on parents and guardians.” 

While financially this could benefit people, there are downsides to this as well. School corporations could start waiting until textbooks are extremely out of date to replace them. A textbook becomes difficult and inconvenient to utilize if it's old and tattered. This could lead to a lack of textbooks as they become useless as they get older. Even if this fund gets approved by the legislature, this doesn’t mean corporations won't still be frugal with money. This means that schools could receive cheaper books that cover less educational topics. 

There is a possibility that schools might be limited to the textbooks they can buy and the longevity of these books. Even if that becomes the case, pros and cons have to be weighed. Governor Holcomb strives to focus a lot of the budget on the improvement of K-12 spending the teacher pay. In the Mooresville school district, there are 1,410 students enrolled. Not accounting for the students receiving free or reduced books, this is around $280,500 every year in book rentals. So much could be done for the families in Indiana. Let's start by checking one of the expenses off the list.