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District Forced To Give Away Textbooks

STOCKTON, Calif. (CBS13) -- A school district is giving away thousands of brand-new textbooks because they don't meet state academic standards, officials said.

The Stockton Unified School District has stored millions of dollars worth of the elementary school supplies in a warehouse for months while trying to determine how to reclaim as much money as possible.

Officials say former superintendent Anthony Amato bought the materials from a company called "Success For All" in 2008, spending $3 million on the reading material and another $1.7 million on training.

"This really became a drama resulting in a poor choice by an out-of-state superintendent who didn't understand the rules and regulations," said assistant superintendent Dr. Kirk Nicholas.

Amato was fired after 14 months on the job.

The poor choice left the school district with few options and additional penalties. The state has forced the district to move $1 million out of their general fund to another pot that was used to buy the books as a penalty for signing the contract.

Former school board president Beverly Fitch says the wasted money has made the economic crunch that much worse. "Job losses, increases in class size, I mean, [the money] has to come from somewhere," she said.

The school district sent an e-mail to teachers on Wednesday that said the textbooks are free to anyone who wants them.

"Materials must be taken at recipient's expense and may not be returned," the e-mail read. If anything is left over, the district will "sell the materials for scrap, or destroy them by the most economical means available."

Dr. Nicholas said the district didn't have any other option. "We have researched every possible use and the ability to give back and/or have folks buy [the books], the bottom line is the contract is very specific," he said.

The Stockton Unified School District is facing a $25 million deficit for the coming fiscal year.

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