Section 701 of Education Law requires all school boards to purchase and to loan textbooks on an equitable basis to all pupils residing in the school district who are attending kindergarten through grade twelve in any public or nonpublic school. Parents are responsible for requesting the loan of textbooks their children need from the district in which they live. Each board of education is responsible for purchasing and loaning only textbooks that are nonsectarian.
The obligation of boards of education to provide textbooks for resident pupils is limited only by (a) existing stocks of textbooks available for use in public and nonpublic schools and (b) the total annual amount available for purchase of textbooks, which includes an apportionment from the State. Each school district receives funds from the State from the textbook loan program based on the number of pupils resident in the district. The current State apportionment is $58.25 times the number of resident pupils. This is the amount the district receives; it is not a formula for districts to use in providing textbooks. There is no limit on the amount a district may spend for a given pupil. No pupil may be denied textbooks for financial reasons if the district has not expended an amount equal to the State apportionment for textbooks.
The law requires that parents submit written requests for the loan of textbooks to the public school district in which the pupil resides. It is the responsibility of the nonpublic school administrator to provide the parents with the list of books their children need in a timely fashion so that the parents may submit their requests to the district. For the convenience of the public school officials, nonpublic school administrators may collect requests from parents and submit the list collectively to the public school district. If this is done, the nonpublic school administrator must keep the individual parental requests on file. Parents of pupils attending the public schools in the district of residence are not required to submit such requests because school officials know which textbooks are to be used.
A board of education may specify a date by which requests for textbooks must be received by the district. Notice of the date, which cannot be earlier than June 1 for requests for the following year, must be given to all nonpublic schools. Also, a parent or guardian of a pupil not attending a particular nonpublic school prior to June 1 may submit a written request for textbooks written within 30 days after the pupil is enrolled in the nonpublic school.
It must be noted that a district is not required to establish a cutoff date for receipt of requests for textbook loans. However, if the district decides to set a date, it may not establish a date before June 1 of the year prior to that for which textbooks are requested. Nonetheless, requests should be submitted well before this date to ensure that books are delivered by the opening of school in the fall.
Certain newspapers and news magazines are included within the definition of a textbook for purposes of the textbook loan program. In order to be considered a textbook, the newspaper or news magazine must be one of general circulation distributed at least once a week and meet other criteria listed in the Question and Answer segment of this section.
Through requests for the loan of textbooks, the school district ascertains needs in the various subjects of public and nonpublic school pupils. The number of textbooks needed is then checked against existing book stocks to determine the number of textbooks that the district may be required to purchase. The total cost of the books being considered for purchase is then checked against the budgeted appropriation. If the total cost does not exceed the appropriation, purchase and distribution should proceed smoothly. If, on the other hand, the total cost exceeds the appropriation, the board will need to determine whether it wishes to exceed the appropriation. If so, it may increase the textbook appropriation or it may transfer money from other accounts into the textbook budget. If not, the board must determine the subject areas and grade levels for which it will not be able to provide textbooks for pupils in public and nonpublic schools.
If the board of education decides it should spend more than the appropriation, but not as much as is required to purchase all of the textbooks to meet the needs of all resident pupils attending public and nonpublic schools on an equitable basis, it must then determine in which subject areas or at which grade levels it will not be able to loan textbooks. As this decision will affect pupils in both public and nonpublic schools, the board is encouraged to discuss this matter with nonpublic school officials before making a decision about which textbooks will not be provided.
A school district may follow the usual procedure of purchasing textbooks directly from the vendor. If a school district wishes, it may contract with another school district or a Board of Cooperative Educational Services whereby that entity will purchase the textbooks and also may distribute them to the pupils. Under this arrangement, the board of education of the district in which the pupils reside does not relieve itself of the responsibility for the approval of accountability for the textbooks or for the payment for them.
The public school district must provide books to nonpublic and public school pupils on an equitable basis. The district may spend more than the State-allocated total of $58.25 times the number of resident pupils, but all purchases must be distributed equitably among both public and nonpublic school pupils based on the needs of the pupils. For example, one pupil might require books totaling $50 and another require books that necessitate no new expenditures because they are already in the district’s inventory. It is the district’s responsibility to provide the books needed for each pupil’s instructional program.
Textbook purchases are ordinary contingent expenses. Even in cases where budgets are defeated by the voters, the board has the duty to purchase and loan textbooks up to the mandated amount as well as the power to purchase and loan textbooks in excess of that amount.
In preparing its State aid forms a public school district may include the purchase price of the textbooks under textbook expenses. The cost of freight or postage for transporting such textbooks from the vendor to the district may be included in textbook expenses if the cost of the total amount of textbook expenses for all pupils in the district is less than the total State maximum aidable amount for the district. Otherwise, freight or postage should be included in operating expenses of the district. Orders for textbooks may not be limited by the district in order to reserve funds for the purpose of transporting of such materials. The district may include in its regular operating expense other expenditures relating to the textbook loan program such as distribution, storage, administrative expenses, but these expenditures may not be included for textbook aid purposes.
All textbooks remain the property of the school district and such ownership should be indicated in or on each book by labels or other appropriate methods of identification. The board of education may require that textbooks be returned to the district at the end of the school year. In cases where textbooks are used only for one semester, the board may require that they be returned at the end of the semester. The board of education may, if it wishes, enter into an agreement with a nonpublic school to store textbooks in the nonpublic school. In such cases, the district may not pay storage charges of any kind to the nonpublic school, nor may the nonpublic school charge the district for any administrative costs involved.
Since the law provides that textbooks be "loaned free" to pupils, no fees may be assessed in connection with the textbook loan program. The law authorizes school boards to make reasonable rules and regulations governing the loan of textbooks which may contain requirements for reimbursement by the pupil to the school district for damage, loss, or destruction of loaned books. Such rules and regulations must apply to both public and nonpublic school pupils and should be distributed to parents and pupils at the time books are loaned.
Students with disabilities attending private schools approved for the education of students with disabilities and for which there is a State-approved tuition rate are not eligible to request the loan of Instructional Materials Aid, including textbook, software, hardware and library materials, from public school districts under this program. The established tuition rate covers "the per pupil cost of all instructional services, supplies and equipment" and, therefore, the approved private schools should acquire appropriate materials directly as such costs are reimbursed through the tuition rate.
Questions and Answers
What is the definition of textbook?A textbook is any book or a book substitute, including hard-covered or paperback books, workbooks designed to be written in and used up, certain newspapers and news magazines and manuals which a pupil is required to use as a text or a text-substitute in a particular class or program as a primary source of study material intended to implement a major part of a State or local curriculum.
What materials are excluded under the textbook loan law?
- Reference materials - encyclopedia, almanacs, atlases, and general and special dictionaries, except that dictionaries individually assigned to all pupils in a particular class or program as a textbook substitute are considered as textbooks.
- Supplementary materials - supplementary textbooks, novels, and other fiction, magazines, newspapers, and audiovisual materials normally housed in the school library or instructional materials center for short-term use by pupils.
- Other materials - texts and testing material, teachers’ editions of textbooks, review books, and materials in kit form.
Which newspapers and news magazines can be part of textbook loan program?Those newspapers and magazines which meet all the following criteria can be purchased and loaned as part of the textbook loan program:
- Have a general circulation and be printed and distributed at least once a week.
- Have a paid circulation within the school district.
- Be entered with the U.S. Postal Service as second-class matter.
- Be available to schools on the date of publication at a discount of not less than 33 1/3 percent from the regular price.
- The publisher must regularly supply study guides without charge.
May books be ordered which are authored by clergy or religious?Yes. Authorship by a member of the clergy alone does not exclude the book. The determining factor is that the content is secular in nature. Textbooks containing an imprimatur may not be ordered.
Must a nonpublic school use the same textbooks as a public school?No. The choice of textbooks to be used in any school is made by that school’s personnel. However, the school district may purchase and loan to its resident students only those books which have been approved by any school board in the State. If a question is raised about this, the nonpublic school administrator is advised to ask the publisher of the textbook about its use in other districts.
Are all resident pupils in kindergarten through grade 12 eligible for the loan of textbooks?Yes
Before it receives and reviews textbook requests from nonpublic schools, may a board of education decide which textbooks will not be purchased?No. Such a decision can only be made after all requests are received and the board has assessed all the needs and resources.
Once a textbook has been selected for a specific course, must it be retained for a specified period of time?The law specifies a five-year period for public schools but gives a school board the authority to override this requirement by a three-fourths vote. This provides flexibility when a new edition or change in instructional approach makes the former selection substantially inferior or ineffective.
The law does not specify a time period for textbooks used by pupils attending nonpublic schools. However, nonpublic schools are strongly urged to retain textbooks for a five-year period.
Must textbook requests be submitted to the board of education by a certain date?The law allows a board of education to set a date by which the districts must receive requests for textbooks loans, but this date cannot be earlier than June 1 of the year preceding that for which textbooks are requested. It is recommended that nonpublic and public school administrators agree on a reasonable date and assemble textbook requests during the spring. This will ensure that textbooks are ordered in a timely fashion.
What is the obligation of the parents of pupils attending nonpublic schools?Parents of pupils attending nonpublic schools must submit to the board of education of their district of residence a written request for the textbooks needed by their children during the coming year. This request should include the information necessary to provide the books such as title, author, publisher, and copyright date. The request may be submitted through the nonpublic school.
What is the obligation of a nonpublic school administrator with regard to the loan of textbooks?A nonpublic school administrator must provide parents with the information necessary to request textbooks of their boards of education. Such information should include title, author, publisher, copyright date, and any other information necessary for processing the request.
Is the nonpublic school administrator required to submit collectively the parents’ requests for textbooks?No. However, such an arrangement is allowed and can expedite the textbook loan process. Many school districts have made such arrangements with nonpublic school administrators and they have proven to be effective.
May a board of education appropriate an amount less than the State apportionment to the district for the purchase of textbooks?No. The law mandates that a board of education appropriate no less than its apportionment from the State. The current State apportionment is $57.30 times the number of resident pupils.
May a district reserve part of the State apportionment to cover transportation, shipping, handling or administrative costs for the textbook loan program?No. Orders for textbooks may not be limited by the district in order to reserve fund to cover these costs. The costs may be included in textbook expenses if the total amount of textbook expenses for all pupils in the district is less than the total State maximum aidable amount for the district. Otherwise, freight or postage should be included in operating expenses of the district.
May a board appropriate more than the State apportionment for textbooks in the annual budget?Yes. There is no limit to the amount a board of education may budget for textbook purposes.
May a district limit the textbook requests from a nonpublic school pupil to a specific amount based on the State apportionment?No. Textbooks must be loaned on the basis of individual pupil needs. The State formula for apportioning textbook funds cannot be applied to the distribution of textbooks within a district.
What must a board of education do if it does not have the resources needed to fulfill the textbook needs of all resident pupils?The board of education must decide how it will distribute equitably the books which it owns and the books which can be purchased from textbook funds. This will mean that some pupils may not receive all needed books. The board must decide which books it will not purchase. Any decision the board makes must apply equitably to pupils in both public and nonpublic schools and should involve nonpublic school officials in the decision-making. The board cannot require only pupils attending nonpublic schools to purchase textbooks.
Is it equitable treatment for all pupils to receive the same number of books?Probably not. Pupils’ needs vary greatly depending upon grade level, school attended, or course of study. Books should be loaned on the basis of individual need.
Is it equitable treatment for all pupils to be allowed the same amount of money for textbooks?No. Equitable treatment is not related to equal dollars. Books are to be loaned on the basis of individual pupil need.
What is an example of equitable treatment when the board does not have the necessary resources to fulfill all requests?An example of equitable treatment is that a board might decide not to provide consumable workbooks in certain subject areas or to pupils in certain grade levels. For example, it might not provide reading workbooks to pupils enrolled in grades three and four in both public and nonpublic schools. Any such decision should be discussed with nonpublic school administrators, who are urged to be sensitive to the budgetary constraints in the school district.
Does the board of education have the responsibility for notifying parents of nonpublic school pupils that it is unable to provide all the textbooks requested?Yes. Nonpublic school parents and school administrators must know as early as possible which textbooks will and will not be available. It is unfair to pupils if notices are not received in a timely manner.
If a public school district increases the funds available for textbook purchases during the course of a school year, must the district inform nonpublic school administrators of this action?Yes. The district must notify nonpublic school administrators of the availability of additional funds and give them the opportunity to request additional purchases if original requests for books were not filled.
How are a public school district’s expenditures for textbooks reported to the State?The district must report on the A2110.48 annual financial report all expenditures for materials eligible for purchase under the textbook loan program.
Is a board of education required to provide textbooks to pupils who become residents of the district after the school year has begun?Yes. The board must provide textbooks to new residents if the books are available in the inventory or if there are sufficient funds in the textbook account. Boards are encouraged to make every effort to respond to the needs of such pupils in both public and nonpublic schools and are allowed to transfer money from other accounts into the textbook account.
In schools which use an individualized approach to learning may texts on different levels be purchased for pupils in the same class?Yes. The law does not require every pupil in the same class to use the same book.
Is a board of education required to purchase or loan textbooks for use at summer school?No. There is no requirement that a board purchase textbooks specifically for use at summer schools. A board may, however, loan to summer school pupils the textbooks it already owns. These books must be loaned to both public and nonpublic school pupils on an equitable basis.
Does the law authorize the board of education to make reasonable rules covering the loan of textbooks?Yes. Such rules apply equally to both public and nonpublic school pupils. It is good practice that such rules are shared with parents and pupils prior to the distribution of textbooks and periodically thereafter.
May a district charge a parent or a nonpublic school for transportation, shipping, or administrative costs connected with textbook loans?No. It is not permissible for a district to make such charges.
May books be shipped from a vendor to a nonpublic school?Yes. Such an arrangement is permissible. However, if the nonpublic school requests this service, the nonpublic school may be required to pay the total shipping costs.
May a board of education charge parents for the damage, loss or destruction of the loaned textbook?Yes. This charge would apply equally to parents of public and nonpublic school pupils.
Are the nonpublic schools responsible for storing books no longer in use?No. The books belong to the school district and are its responsibility. However, a school district may enter into an agreement with the nonpublic school to store books in the nonpublic school. The nonpublic school may not charge the school district for any administrative costs involved.
What should a board of education do with textbooks that are obsolete or no longer used?A board of education may dispose of outdated textbooks as it sees fit. It is advisable to keep a record of the disposition of any textbooks.
Is there anything in Section 701 of the Education Law (New York State Textbook Law) or Part 21 of the Rules of the Board of Regents that prohibits a school district from receiving textbook aid for the purchases of used textbooks?No. As long as the textbooks satisfy all other requirements for the definition of a textbook as contained in Subdivision 2 of Section 701 of the Education Law and Section 21.1 of the Rules of the Board of Regents, used textbooks may be purchased.
May a public school district which has an "approved book list" limit requests for textbooks to those titles on the list?No. Section 701 of the Education Law and Part 21 of the Rules of the Board of Regents do not prohibit a nonpublic school from using a textbook of its own choosing, provided that book meets the definition of a textbook as contained in Subdivision 2 of Section 701 of the Education Law and Section 21.1 of the Rules of the Board of Regents.