Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rockford Public School Libraries: "You're really looking at a warehouse right now"

Rockford school staff warns cuts will turn libraries into ‘warehouses'. (Rockford Register-Star, 5/7/2011)

Excerpt:  The hundreds of layoffs in the Rockford School District have left district officials scrambling to offer services to students and still balance the budget.

The School Board approved the dismissal of all nontenured staff members March 8; the vote eliminated hundreds of teachers, psychologists, social workers, speech therapists and language pathologists. The board voted March 29 to lay off an additional 29 tenured staff members. Total cut: more than 570.

Among the most vocal have been the district’s certified teacher-librarians, none of whom will be returning as librarians next year. Without them, school libraries will be closed much of the time, Auburn High School librarian Lori Drummond-Cherniwchan said.

“You’re really looking at a (book) warehouse right now,” she said.

The 14 certified teacher-librarians already feel like they’re working with bare-bones support, and they say services to students will drop significantly without those certified staff.

“We want our libraries open,” said Laura Meehan, the librarian at Washington Academy. “They’re of no value if they’re not open.”

A plan being drafted by district officials would staff one library paraprofessional at each of the district’s four high schools and six middle schools and 12.5 paraprofessional positions for the district’s elementary schools. This year, the district staffs 42 library paraprofessional positions.

But Illinois School Code doesn’t allow paraprofessionals, who are only required to have a high school education, to teach or supervise a class, so teachers could no longer send classes to the library

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