PTA President Kate Schmus helps kindergartner Ireese Vinson, 6, choose books at Temperance Road Elementary’s book fair. The building is to close at the end of this school year.
TEMPERANCE — Books were the focus last week at Temperance Road Elementary as the school held its final Scholastic Book Fair. It’s final because the school will close at the end of this academic year, a victim of the Bedford district’s falling enrollment and weak finances.
This fair had a special treat for Temperance Road’s 420 students: Each received a free book of choice. The school’s Parent Teacher Association has held the book fair twice a year as fund-raiser and said it decided the free-books offer was a good way to encourage reading. The only restriction was that the free book could cost no more than $5.
The PTA had another motive in mind. It will dissolve shortly and has $43,000 it has raised for amenities such as playground equipment that will not be purchased.
Paying for the book giveaway was a way to burn some cash and leave the children with an education-oriented memento of the school. The PTA is sponsoring a slate of activities before the June 7 end of the school year and will give each student a $50 gift card for use at the iTunes store, Target, Amazon.com, or Best Buy, the group’s president, Kate Schmus, said.
But last week was for books. The PTA keeps part of the revenue from the sale of Scholastic books and usually takes the money in “Scholastic dollars” that can be used to buy other books from the international publisher based in New York.
At the book fair in the school library, students enjoyed browsing before choosing their free selection.
Gaige Keane, 9, said he wanted “the Jackie Robinson book. I like to play baseball.”
Gavin Depue, also 9, said he was interested in reptiles and planned to pick “a book on alligators,” and Amber LeMay, 10, looked at books about dogs.
The school will be closed to help erase a persistent budget deficit. Temperance Road is the district’s smallest and oldest building — built 55 years ago — and closing it is projected to save the strapped system $850,000 a year. Students will be transferred to Bedford’s three other elementary schools.
In a similar cost-cutting move, the district closed Smith Road Elementary at the end of the 2010-11 school year. That led to the layoff of 32 teachers, but it’s too early to say how many at Temperance Road will lose their jobs.
On Friday, the PTA will hold a movie night for students at the school. The feature is set to be Wreck-it Ralph. On May 17, the PTA will pay for an ice cream truck to visit the school, and on May 31, a fun day is to include bounce houses and a photo booth. The PTA also plans a community homecoming day on June 3 for Temperance Road graduates and friends.
The PTA will give its leftover cash to the Bedford Community Foundation. The two $500-a-year college scholarships for Temperance Road graduates still will be awarded, Ms. Schmus said.
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