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Officials: New books are a bargain

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

McCOOK, Nebraska -- McCook, Nebraska, Public Schools' curriculum director told board of education members Monday evening that the new K-5 reading materials are valued at $469,000.

Finance director Rick Haney said he was expecting to spend anywhere between $188,000 and $225,000, "or whatever we needed."

But, rather than being disappointed in the dollar amounts, Haney called curriculum director Gayle Sharkey, "every business manager's dream," as Sharkey explained that the school will spend a grand total of $138,024.81 (plus shipping) for the new reading and language arts curriculum from the McGraw Hill School Education Group.

The McGraw Hill price quote includes a complete reading/language arts core program called "Treasures," a "Tier 2" program for "Response to Intervention" called "Triumphs," all the technology packages to support teachers' instruction and students with special needs, all available additional literature for classroom collections and four professional development sessions for the 2011-12 school year.

As an example of Sharkey's negotiations, the value of all kindergarten materials is $44,621.58 and materials that will be free of charge are valued at $30,406.80, for a grand total for the kindergarten materials of $14,214.78. First grade costs are even better: Value of all materials, $108,709.26, free materials $88,370.52, for a total of $20,338.74.

The value of all the new reading materials is $468,739.80; the total of free materials is $330,714.99; the product total is $138,024.81.

Shipping is generally 10 percent; Sharkey negotiated 5 percent.

Superintendent Grant Norgaard said that Sharkey did "an amazing job," negotiating "really, really, really rock-bottom prices."

Sharkey was quick to share credit for the materials selection with a committee of teachers: two teachers from each grade K-5, as well as teachers from gifted, Title, ELL (English Language Learners) and special education programs. The group met every two weeks from May 2010 through March 2010 to study reading research, instructional strategies and best practices for teaching literacy, Sharkey said. The group read 23 books during their research.

"The teachers were amazing," Sharkey said, taking their task "very seriously, knowing that early literacy is important: 'We've got to get it right'."

Committee members compared lessons from different publishers, and the entire K-5 staff met with representatives of three companies. Sharkey said that the committee completed additional evaluation and materials were made available for parents to review.

Two companies presented bids, Sharkey's negotiations began and the committee's final selection was the McGraw Hill curriculum.

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