Each of the 18 libraries in Tuscaloosa City Schools received thousands of dollars in grant funding this week to put toward buying new books, system leadership announced Thursday.

TCS Director of Public Relations Lydia Avant said TCS won a 5-year Innovated Approaches to Literacy grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will spread $320,000 across school libraries throughout the system.

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In a press release, TCS director of strategic initiatives Andrew Maxey said thanks to that funding, the school system is close to completing a pledge they made in 2017 to ensure all of its libraries reached "exemplary" status.

“The Tuscaloosa City Schools made the commitment six years ago to heal our libraries by lifting their collections to the level defined as “exemplary” in Alabama: 15 books per student enrolled with an average age of 10 years or less,” Maxey said. “Since then we have invested significant funds into all 18 libraries.”

 

Six schools have earned the distinction so far, but with this new funding, TCS wrote several big-ticket checks - $40,000 to Bryant High School, $40,000 for the Alberta School of Performing Arts, $32,000 at Northridge Middle School, $28,000 at Southview Elementary - and Maxey said the books they can buy will get all but three TCS school libraries up to the vaunted "exemplary" status.

“Thanks to the strategic planning of the grant administration team, $320,000 in grant funds have been allocated for library collections,” Maxey said. “When combined with the district's annual budget for this work, nine more libraries will reach the "exemplary" threshold once books have been purchased, processed, and added to their collections. By the end of this school year, 15 of 18 libraries will have exemplary collections.”

That would only leave Bryant High School, Central High School and The Alberta School of Performing Arts below “exemplary” status, and Maxey said those three schools are expected to get there by the end of the 2024-25 school year.

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