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Textbook Loan Program expanded to include digital resources

Effective this month, Catholic and other private school students can access the same state-funded digital resources public school students receive.

Through efforts the past two years of the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC), parents, Catholic school administrators and others, state regulations were changed to broaden the definition of textbooks to include electronic or online texts, digital subscriptions and other resources.

The change makes the materials available to private school students through the state’s Textbook Loan Program (TLP), which has benefited parents of Catholic school children for years by "allowing them to access the same textbooks their tax dollars are already providing to public school students," said Tom Venzor, NCC executive director.

Before the Nebraska Department of Education’s rule change, public school districts made only traditional textbooks and limited electronic resources available to private school students, creating a resource gap between public and private school students, Venzor said.

Now, public school districts must provide electronic and digital subscriptions as well as multi-volume texts and write-in work texts to the extent those materials are available to public school students, and to the extent the Legislature provides funding.

The Legislature appropriated $465,000 for the program this academic year.

Under the program, parents of elementary school students may request up to 10 textbooks per student, and parents of junior and senior high school students may request up to eight. School districts can limit the number of texts available if demand exceeds their TLP funding.

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