PTA book sale to stave off library budget cuts

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In response to recent and pending budget cuts, Peters school district PTAs are combining forces for the second year to hold a used book and media sale Friday and Saturday.

The sale supports districtwide reading programs and includes more than 9,500 books, CDs and DVDs.

The effort not only provides the community the chance to purchase like-new items less expensively, it also stocks district school libraries with much-loved titles, explained Lisa Anderson, parent and chairman of the sale.

"Members of the PTA wanted to do something to encourage reading and to take something everyone has in their home to generate money," Mrs. Anderson said.

Prior to last year's sale, school librarians, faced with decreased book purchasing budgets, were invited to peruse the books that were collected throughout the community. They put a combined 320 titles to use, adding to existing copies of well-worn paperbacks and hardbacks, including the Junie B. Jones, Magic Tree House and Harry Potter series.

"They had them sorted by grade level and genre. It was very easy for us to go in and select books our students just love," said Nancy Barley, librarian at Pleasant Valley Elementary School.

"We were also able to incorporate nonfiction books to supplement the curriculum," she said.

In addition, classroom teachers were able to select multiple copies of certain titles to create a class set.

Proceeds for this year's sale will go toward reading programs outlined by teachers requesting funds, Mrs. Anderson said.

Last year's sale, with 7,000 collected items, raised more than $2,000 that went toward purchasing classroom books, including the middle school English department's request for copies of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

The PTAs also purchased an iPad and accessories for an elementary reading center, reading comprehension kits for second-grade and autistic support books.

Items not sold will go to other districts in need and shelters, Mrs. Anderson said. About half of last year's donated items remained after the sale.

Along with other Pennsylvania school districts, Peters has faced budget cuts over the past couple of years. In 2011, the district received about $900,000 less than the previous year. This year's preliminary budget includes possible increased spending on new computers, special education, anticipated increase in enrollment, an additional $1.4 million in pension costs and a new Internet-based phone system.

These items, along with mandatory district costs, could total $54 million in spending.

The district preliminary budget is slated to be approved at Monday's school board meeting, according to district spokeswoman Shelly Belcher.

"I think this is an example of when you actually see there are financial constraints on a district that nobody is giving anything but what they have. It generates money for the district and encourages reading," Mrs. Anderson said.

And even though the book-buying budget has decreased, "the interest of our students to read has not decreased," Mrs. Barley said.

The used book and media sale is from 3:15 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the middle school gym. Hardback books and DVDs cost $1, and paperbacks cost 50 cents. From 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, items can be purchased for $5 a bag.

neigh_south

Laurie Bailey, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com


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