I joined ALA (American Library Association) in the spring because I am going to the AASL(American Association of School Libraries) conference in the fall. ALA sends me emails almost weekly updating current events throughout the country.
This is a current event I did not want to see “Spokane schools halve K–8 librarians’ hours“. This is the second largest district in the state. My state. My district(Evergreen Public Schools) is among the largest in the state as well.
How can that be? How can Spokane Public Schools decide to cut the teacher librarian positions to half time at elementary? How can they decide that libraries are not worth maintaining in the district budget? How can a they ignore the data and research that supports that a strong library program supports student achievement? How can a district ignore that the National Board of Certification for teachers offers national certification of library media specialists?
Our district is experiencing a flat line in student enrollment. Probably for the first time since I started working in the district twenty-nine years ago. That, of course, translate into a reduction in funding. Last spring our district cut third grade swimming, driver’s education and went from an overnight out school model to a three day field trip model. There was good rationale for these cuts but in the end, it does save the district money. Our Library Advisory team and Advisory Coordinator positions were also cut. It makes one wonder, “how will the library program be affected?”
I recently posed that question to our superintendent. He assured me that “libraries should be the hub of literacy and research.”
I cannot be like Chicken Little, waiting for the sky to fall. I will work this year (as I do every year) to make certain that our library is the hub of activity. I will make certain that I am available to support students and staff when I am not teaching classes. I will be doing my part to support the “$21-million state-budget request to fully fund school library media programs in every K–12 school…. $20 per K–8 student and $25 per high-schooler to provide an acceptable level of school-library resources for Washington’s school-age children.”
I hope our district will see the value that the library program provides for its students and staff.