The district is providing free textbook rental to all students for a two-semester experiment.
By Rocky Garza Jr.
In May, the Alamo Colleges District awarded a contract to Barnes & Noble College Booksellers with plans to replace former vendor Follett Bookstores this spring.
In a Sept. 21 meeting, the Alamo Colleges board of trustees amended the initial contract and named their changes the First Day Complete Model.
The biggest change the board made was adding a free textbook program through summer.
The revised contract states all textbook purchases will be billed to the district, allowing free textbooks to students. Kristi Wyatt, vice chancellor of communications and engagement, estimates the cost at $17 million.
The 2020 CARES Act created the Higher Education Relief Fund that is providing a $17 million grant to the district to apply to those costs.
Additional revenue could come from an increase in tuition and fees, Wyatt said.
In addition, the new contract states Barnes & Noble will award up to $50,000 annually in scholarships and forego commission from course materials.
Barnes & Noble will incur all distribution costs, including warehousing and mailing books to students. The district will receive a 40% discount on textbooks.
Barnes & Noble’s initial contract awarded the sales of textbooks and instructional materials, a 3% sales commission on gross sales, 12% commission on any general merchandise sale and the bookseller’s scholarship limit was $10,000.
Wyatt said the decision to replace Follett with Barnes & Noble was based on lower projected costs for instructional materials.
The two contracts were not available to check for other differences.
In a Nov. 17 interview. Dr. Thomas Cleary, vice chancellor for planning, performance and information systems, provided the district’s current enrollment numbers and projections for the spring and summer terms.
The spring projection is 49,400 and 19,398 in summer.
Wyatt added that dual-credit students are not eligible for the program because their school districts already pay for their textbooks.
The district is planning to propose an extension of the free textbook program beyond summer and said they will present a plan by March.
Textbook distribution will begin after registration, and Barnes & Noble will email instructions. Students have the option of picking up materials or having them mailed.
In preparation, all Alamo Colleges bookstores will be renovated and hire 20-25 students. To apply, visit www.bncollege.com.