The Carroll Board of Education likely will allow the district to donate discarded textbooks and equipment to worthy causes.
The first recipient under the policy revision, to be voted on Wednesday, could be the local Army National Guard unit. It is spearheading a drive to collect discarded textbooks and other teaching materials for use in Honduran schools.
"This will give us the authority to take any legitimate causes like that and allow them to use the discarded equipment," Superintendent R. Edward Shilling said.
In the past, furniture and other equipment the district judged to be obsolete were sold to the public through auction or sealed bid. Materials not sold were disposed of as salvage or junk.
In some cases, book companies buy back materials that can still be used. Recycling companies also buy some books, said George Arnold, Carroll's supervisor of purchasing.
"Thousands of booksare deemed obsolete each year," he noted.
Other requests for materials, such as that of the Army National Guard, required board approval. The proposed policy, though, would circumvent that process.
Under appropriate circumstances and with the superintendent's approval,furniture and other items, including obsolete textbooks, could be lent, donated or sold to public or private institutions in need of assistance.
"The previous policy did not put us in a position to act on these cases except by special board action," Shilling said. "This particular change would give us more flexibility and allow us to respond directly to those kinds of requests."
The superintendent noted that when the private St. Paul's School in Baltimore County had a fire last January, schools across the state were asked to donate surplusfurniture to the school. He said the administration had to seek board approval before offering any kind of assistance.
Capt. Edward DeBus of the Maryland Army National Guard, 2nd Battalion, 110th Field Artillery, said he has made preliminary contacts with Carroll school officials about donating books for Honduras but has not made any kind of formal presentation to the administration.
"Nobody has put a proposal in front of me at this point," Shilling said. "On the surface,it certainly seems like something worthwhile."
The Westminster-based Guard unit started the book drive after it learned it would travel to the Central American country in May for routine spring training.He said he believed his would be the first Maryland unit to train there.
"Part of our mission is to do something to benefit the local people," DeBus said. "It's a very poor country. The last (National Guard) unit that was there built furniture for the school. Now they've requested school materials."
DeBus said Honduran schools need textbooks of all grade levels and subjects and any other teaching materials. He said it doesn't matter how out of date the materials are.
"We have some materials in hand already," he said. "Some materials have been promised to us, but we haven't picked them up yet."
DeBus said his unit has received donations from Baltimore city schools and expects to receive materials from Howard, Harford and Baltimore countyschools.
"We don't want to take any materials that are being usedfor our kids here," he said. "But if there are materials that aren'tbeing used, we'd like them."
Unit volunteers, he said, will pick up any materials. Books and other supplies will be loaded with equipment that will be sent to Honduras in April.