Bryan ISD Improves Textbook Management Productivity, Cuts Losses With Inventory Program

In this era of education reform, the three A's (Accountability, Accuracy and Accessibility) are becoming just as crucial as the three R's to the success of our education system. As a result, the pressure is on to find technologies and methods that deliver efficient and immediate results. Sounds great, but where d'es the money come from? In this time of budgetary constraints, it is imperative that schools and districts watch their spending and cut costs wherever possible. One area that has proven to be a major expense involves school textbook inventory. With the cost of textbooks on the rise, schools need a way to control their inventory losses. And technology has arrived with an answer.

Reducing Liability

The following is the story of how the 19 campuses of the Bryan Independent School District in Texas took control of one of their most costly reoccurring expenditures - textbook replacements - allowing the district to restructure its instructional materials budget. In 1991, Cathy Conger, the district's library supervisor and textbook coordinator, acquired Hayes Software Systems' Textbook Inventory Program (TIP) for use at the district level. She was concerned about improving the overall productivity of the district's textbook management. Her efforts to educate campus administrators regarding the need for textbook management automation were unsuccessful, at least at the secondary school level where losses were the highest. Campuses were still too reluctant to spend the money.

It wasn't until the end of the 1995 school year when Bryan ISD experienced an audit from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for their textbook inventory that the situation changed dramatically. The district was held accountable for repaying the state $42,000 to replace missing textbooks for that year. This is because in Texas, the state retains ownership of all textbooks supplied free of charge to the schools.

The district administration's first step was to let the campuses know that the district would no longer be responsible for their losses. Then, the campuses began searching for a way to reduce their liability without distorting their budgetary plans for future years. So, they sought help from the district textbook coordinator. Conger was now able to expand the use of TIP among a high school and three middle school campuses in the district.

The district had been spending up to $40,000 per year to replace missing textbooks at these four campuses alone. But, by the end of the 2001-2002 school year, the cost of replacing missing textbooks for the entire district had been reduced to $5,165. Due to the diligent efforts of the administrators at Bryan High School, they spent no monies for missing books last year, while each middle school kept losses to under $500.

Checks and Balances

Bryan ISD's textbook management problems were solved with the help of TIP, coupled with a textbook bar-coding system. Conger attributes these positive results to the willingness of the campuses to change how they managed their textbooks; their adoption of the TIP software, including bar-code reading technology; as well as the change in district policy to hold campuses individually responsible for their missing textbooks. "Tracking your books is the core functionality, but the benefits of the technology include saving money, reducing the workload and improving productivity," says Conger.

TIP was designed to reduce the amount of money spent by schools to replace lost and damaged textbooks. The software is available in two versions to fit the needs of the district office and those of the individual school campus. Each version has its own database that gives administrators a method for checks and balances, while preserving the integrity of the data.

TIP offers users features necessary to simplify their tasks and increase efficiency, including:

  • Automatic generation of lost book letters to parents, which helps save time and effort during textbook collection time.
  • Dozens of reports for instant data on inventory and book status, including analysis of available books among all schools in the district.
  • A master titles database with thousands of commonly used titles to simplify inventory set up.
  • The ability to print bar-code labels for all textbooks in the inventory forselected titles or a single copy.
  • Easily import scheduling and course information for students and teachers to enhance book checks by teachers during the year.

Contact Information
Hayes Software Systems
Austin, TX
(800) 749-5086

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2003 issue of THE Journal.