The Richland School Board will be reviewing the district's novel approval process after concerns were raised by a board member and citizen Tuesday night.
The board held off approving or rejecting three novels for the district's high schools. It will revisit the issue Feb. 3.
"We need to look at our process and clean it up," said board member Phyllis Strickler.
Controversy surrounded the district last year after the board voted 3-2 to pull the novel The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, an acclaimed young-adult novel by Sherman Alexie, from the district's curriculum. The board later reversed its decision in August after public outcry.
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The board did approve five other books Tuesday but those books were recommended almost 100 percent by the district's Instructional Materials Committee.
The committee -- made up of teachers, parents and administrators -- is reviewing all books used in Richland schools.
The three books the board tabled -- The Lottery by Patricia Wood, Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn, and A Child Called It by David Pelzer -- at most received 50 percent approval without reservations from committee members. Those books include dark themes, foul language and sexual content, according to committee reviews.
Strickler said she wanted books that didn't receive at least two-thirds of the group's recommendation without reservations to go before a curriculum committee.
David Garber, a Richland resident, said he isn't confident that the board's process of approving novels is putting the best novels in classrooms.
Board Chairman Richard Jansons said it is important to know how the books are used and that he had no problem holding off on approving the three novels and considering alternate books.
However, he said books with tough subjects should not be excluded because there is value in students having awareness of situations in society.
Also Tuesday :
-- The board recognized two students and three staff members for their efforts in mid-December in saving the life of a Richland High School freshman who collapsed during a lunch break.
Juniors Keegan Shepherd and Sheldon Liikala saw Jeremy Brewer collapse and ran to a nearby building to tell a teacher. Teachers John Bittinger and Paul Staley and Athletic Director Mike Edwards used an automatic external defibrillator to restart Brewer's heart.
-- Third-grade teachers from Jefferson Elementary School updated the board on the use of iPads in teaching math and language arts in the classroom. The teachers have been using the devices since Dec. 12.
"We've only had them for three short weeks but we're seeing quite a difference," said Jefferson Elementary Principal Bobbie Buttars.
Teachers told the board that students were using the tablets and showing improvements in programs they were using.
-- Board members agreed to move forward with possibly refinancing the bond issued in 2005. Analysis by a financial adviser found the district could save up to $1.1 million, or more than 7 percent of the $13.4 million dollar bond.