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Word Count: 540
Schools missing 1 million in textbooks from last year Maybe Palm Beach Countys students love reading more than anyone realized In the last school year they failed to return nearly 1 million worth of the school districts textbooks A state audit released this week criticizes the school district for its collection procedures in gathering lost or stolen textbooks that totaled 964758 during the 2000-2001 school year Thats about 19000 books at an average cost of 50 each Summer reading School officials dont think so But theres little they can do to get the books back Some principals threaten to withhold report cards but if the parents ask for the grades the school has to hand them over -- book or no book Other schools promise no returned textbook no diploma But thats not really legal either and kids have probably figured out its just a bluff New procedures will be put in place to keep tabs on books better said Meezie Pierce who tracks textbooks and instruction material for the districts academic programs department But what the district really needs is more legal muscle she said The only punishment a school can inflict is restricting extracurricular activities and asking the student to do community service to pay off the book We dont have many options Pierce said Theres just no teeth in the law The district also can ask only for 75 percent of the cost of a lost damaged or stolen book although officials are trying to get out of that restriction In March the Charter School District Advisory Committee approved a plan with seven waiver requests including one that allows the district to charge full price when a book is not returned If the plan is approved by the school board and state Palm Beach County could be the fourth charter district in Florida allowing it to bypass some state laws and enforce the book policy Spanish River High School Principal Geoffrey
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