Eastern Missouri school district may swap textbooks for Kindles

Sunday, February 27, 2011 | 5:41 p.m. CST

PARK HILLS — An eastern Missouri school district may replace textbooks with e-readers.

The school board for the Central School District in Park Hills voted Tuesday to approve a "Kindles for Kids" proposal. Administrators want to provide each of the 2,046 students in the district with the Amazon Kindle DX by the 2011-2012 school year.

But there is a catch: The district won't pay for the Kindles. The project will only happen if electronics stores can be convinced to donate the e-readers, or money to buy them. Each Kindle DX costs about $380.

"This program would save the district a lot of money each year on textbooks," superintendent Desi Mayberry said. "If we were able to provide each student with a Kindle, students would be able to learn and access a whole world of information much quicker than they would through a regular textbook. Students would have information instantly, rather than they would if they waited for a shipment of textbooks to arrive. Curriculum would also be easier to update." The idea came from Nicole Hassell, a library and computer aid in the district. She will reach out to electronics stores from around the state seeking donations.

E-book prices start at around $1.99. Mayberry said that low cost would mean the district could buy more books each year for students.

"We would have more money left in our budget if we purchased e-books than if we continued to buy hard or soft backed books," the superintendent said. "Teachers would be able to provide so many new opportunities for students with more books."

Meanwhile, school administrators believe the technology would encourage students to read outside of the classroom and teach them technological skills.

Schools in other states, such as Clearwater High School in Florida, have already switched from textbooks to e-readers.

Park Hills is in St. Francois County, about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis.

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