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Legislator talks textbooks with T.K. Stone students

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Jimmie Lee responds to letters from classrooms

By Kelly Cantrall

Tiring of losing pages when they open their textbooks, T.K. Stone Middle School students requested a local legislator’s help in finding money for replacements.

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State Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, visited the school Tuesday to discuss the issue after students wrote letters requesting money be set aside for updating their crumbling copies.

Lee said education money in general is a topic weighing on the minds of many legislators and their constituents.

“There’s not a legislator who’s not getting these letters,” he told the students.

Lee said the economy is expected to grow in the next two years in the state. He believes additional money for education is a priority of Gov. Steve Beshear and legislators in the upcoming budget session, which begins in January.

Districts receive a source of income from the state called Flexible Focus Funds and part of that money is earmarked for textbooks for kindergarten through eighth grades. In fiscal year 2011, money for textbooks across the state dropped from about $21.7 million to less than $650,000, according to a document from the Kentucky Department of Education. For the last two fiscal years, there has been no dedicated money for books.

Other income sources can be used to purchase books.

With the possibility of increased money for education, Lee told the students he hoped some of the money would be used by districts to buy new books.

Sixth-grade social studies teacher Lesley Henry assigned the letters to her students after a lesson on the mechanics of a democracy, including voicing concerns to representatives.

Henry doesn’t assign social studies books to her students, but instead keeps them in her classroom and allows them to be checked out. She did not think the books could withstand being kept in lockers.

Student Grace Key said the spine of her math book isn’t connected to the covers.

“It’s not only just the social studies book, it’s all the books,” Key said.

Student William Mangum mentioned the poor condition of his science book.

“I had to tape it together because the cover would fall off if I didn’t,” Mangum said.

Lee’s office contacted Henry to set up a visit at the school, she said. The students are hopeful about the possibility of new textbooks.

“I was surprised that he would actually listen to us because we’re just sixth-graders,” Mangum said.

Lee thanked the students for taking part in the democratic process.

“I want you to continue to do that your whole life,” he said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at 270-505-1747 or kcantrall@

thenewsenterprise.com.