Poly Reverts to Former Textbook Purchasing Plan


Maerose Daniels, Editor-in-Chief

Going into the 2022-2023 school year, the Poly administration began having families order textbooks directly through EdTech Solutions, the online platform partnering with Poly to assist in textbook implementation, rather than Poly ordering them on behalf of students.  However, this initiative was short-lived as it will not continue into the next school year, and Poly will go back to ordering students’ books for them with the cost included in tuition according to Head of Technology Charles Polizano. 

“Tuition isn’t changed by this, but the books will be considered an additional fee on top of tuition. This fee varies by grade level starting at $150 for 5th grade, up to $600 in 11/12th grade,” Polizano wrote in an email to the Polygon. “The new model for next year allows us to bring costs down, as the cost per student this year varied wildly based on course enrollments, particularly in the Upper School.”

Parents were asked to place a separate order for textbooks through EdTech in August 2022. In past years, textbooks have been delivered to the school for distribution rather than families homes, and this is what it will look like once again for the 2023-2024 school year. 

Polizano emailed families in January of 2023 to inform them of the upcoming process change. He thanked them for their feedback and shared that after evaluating the experience there would be changes to how textbook ordering will look for the 2023-2024 school year. 

According to Polizano, “Instead of parents paying for each book individually, which could cause disparities in cost per student, especially in the Upper School, we are charging a flat fee on student’s tuition invoices that are the same for all students in a grade level.” 

The original decision to have families pay for books outside of tuition came from Poly’s administration. Members of the administration “worked together to plan and communicate the transition of the tuition covering the full cost of books to having parents purchase them separately,” said Polizano. 

The initial backlash to this change came after the school year began. “Many found this

year’s process to be a bit clunky as the ordering itself was not so intuitive on the ordering website,” wrote Head of the Parents’ Association Rashmi Budhram in an email to the Polygon. 

Some students tried to work around the costs displayed on EdTech. “Some of the textbooks were a lot more expensive on EdTech than on Amazon, so I bought them separately,” said Junior Laila Baluk. “Some [textbooks] I haven’t even used yet. Some teachers will screenshot or take pictures of their textbooks and post it on Classroom because not all students have them,” said Baluk. 

Teachers also faced the challenges of families being responsible for textbook ordering. “Students will say ‘I didn’t get the book.’ A couple times I had to email home a reminder to get the book to parents… it’s usually that they forgot,” said English Teacher Laura Caldwell. “It’s easier when teachers have them here to hand out to be prepared for the unit,” she said.  

Poly was not alone in the decision to put families in charge of ordering books. Schools such as Fieldston typically have students pay for the cost of textbooks outside of tuition. “Books are, on average, an additional $750 for Fieldston Middle and Fieldston Upper students,” according to Fieldston’s website. 

Like Fieldston’s structure that includes financial aid applied at the same rate for books as tuition, Polizano said that financial aid will automatically be applied to the book fee on the re-enrollment contract at the same rate as tuition reduction.

The feedback given by families and faculty show that most prefer to have books paid for in tuition.“The consensus which we as a PA heard was that most prefer to have the books ordered through the school,” wrote Budhram. 

In revising the model for the next school year Polizano wrote, “Basically, the goal for 2023-24 is to take the best parts of the 2021-22 and 2022-23 models and provide the best experience possible for our families.”


Additional reporting by Sasha Londoner.