STOCKTON, Calif. (CBS13) — A school district is giving away thousands of brand-new textbooks because they don’t meet state academic standards, officials said.

The Stockton Unified School District has stored millions of dollars worth of the elementary school supplies in a warehouse for months while trying to determine how to reclaim as much money as possible.

Officials say former superintendent Anthony Amato bought the materials from a company called “Success For All” in 2008, spending $3 million on the reading material and another $1.7 million on training.

“This really became a drama resulting in a poor choice by an out-of-state superintendent who didn’t understand the rules and regulations,” said assistant superintendent Dr. Kirk Nicholas.

Amato was fired after 14 months on the job.

The poor choice left the school district with few options and additional penalties. The state has forced the district to move $1 million out of their general fund to another pot that was used to buy the books as a penalty for signing the contract.

Former school board president Beverly Fitch says the wasted money has made the economic crunch that much worse. “Job losses, increases in class size, I mean, [the money] has to come from somewhere,” she said.

The school district sent an e-mail to teachers on Wednesday that said the textbooks are free to anyone who wants them.

“Materials must be taken at recipient’s expense and may not be returned,” the e-mail read. If anything is left over, the district will “sell the materials for scrap, or destroy them by the most economical means available.”

Dr. Nicholas said the district didn’t have any other option. “We have researched every possible use and the ability to give back and/or have folks buy [the books], the bottom line is the contract is very specific,” he said.

The Stockton Unified School District is facing a $25 million deficit for the coming fiscal year.

Comments (13)
  1. Wayne says:

    My question, why wasn’t Amato’s boss fired as well. Too much money at one persons financial discretion. Sounds like a scapegoat to me. I guess that’s why we pay these geniuses the big bucks. For the intelligent decisions they bring to the table.

    1. Chuck says:

      A little civics lesson: Amato’s boss is the school board that oversees policy but not day to day activities. Unfortunately, Amato’s incompetence did not come to light until the district spent the money.

      That is the same in corporations and government agencies. Amato was hired to do that. The voters hire and fire the school board. So unless the voters in Stockton take collective action, the school board does not get fired.

      Another question that should be asked is why doesn’t the district require a vendor to guarantee that the school books meet California standards? That would give the school district the means to recover in the event the books were deficient. This also raises the question about the quality of the legal advice that should review contracts. (Sometimes lawyers tell their clients what is needed but the clients ignore the advice.)

    2. junior says:

      I thought it was because the books were written in English instead of Spanish, that made them useless.

  2. Jim G says:

    This is a prime reason why we can never get ahead these days. The Stockton Unified School District should be fully able to utilize the textbooks for years, by just including a rider textbook, that brings the books up to standards. Saves everyone MILLIONS of DOLLARS, and takes less time to finalize than rewriting the whole set. The waste is only a waste if they throw the books away, or give them away. These are most likely very minor omissions, and those millions already spent, could be rectified by implementing a add-on booklet to use with the text books. The training money is reclaimed, and those useless textbooks, are now usable.

  3. Wes says:

    So what are the standards that the books don’t meet?

    1. retroveritas says:

      Yes…that should be the story! What is i that is objectionable, or sub-standard, and why haven’t we heard?

  4. frodo198912/2 says:

    What a great school board and superintendent. Did he get a kick back out of this? Or at least a back rub?

  5. tanya says:

    Is there ANY school district that can use these books?

  6. Tim says:

    Success for all is a well known reading program. It’s been very effective in other states in the US.

    The problem, no one outside of education will know is, the CA state standards. The problem isn’t the Success for all program. Did you know that in order for a child to receive instruction on all the state standards, they’d have to be in school until they are around 22 years old?

    CA lags significantly behind other states in implementing programs like Success for all, and the Response to Intervention movement. Don’t blame Amato, he had a Asst. Supt of Curriculum, and other supports that could have helped in this.

    CA education system is a major problem.

  7. Charlie B says:

    So why don’t they research other state standards and solicit a buyer from out of state? They could sell the books at a reduced cost and at least recoup some of the monies.

  8. C Hudson says:

    Why not sell the materials to a district that can use them? Some cost may be able to be recovered.

  9. Perry Baltzer says:

    And this is why we are asked to continually dump a majority of the state budget into schools, yet still get the so called educators screeching foul when we say the till is empty. Kids will never see the money as long as the eliteist administrators continue justifing their salaries with sub-par results and threats of better paying positions in the private sector. B.S.!!

  10. Lunar says:

    I think it is a shame to destroy them. Send them to Africa, or a poorer country that needs educational supplies. A charity will take them and get them where they need to go.

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