After staff cuts at the city’s school district and now transfer of almost a dozen elementary school librarians to classroom teaching posts, a school librarian says elementary school libraries are certain to face shutdown.
“In a district where the kids can’t read why would they get rid of the libraries? It just makes no sense,” said a librarian, who did not wish to be named for fear of retaliation.
“If in fact that is happening I would be very unhappy with that notion,” said school board president Jonathan Hodges.
School district spokeswoman Terry Corallo said libraries are not being shut down at city elementary schools. “Although there have been reductions made to our librarian staff, none of our elementary libraries will be closed,” said Corallo.
10 librarians, who are also certified teachers, have been assigned to classroom teaching posts for the upcoming school year, according to the district.
The district in March of this year balanced its budget by cutting 363 jobs including 197 teachers. Included in the teachers count were school librarians.
The teachers that were in the elementary school libraries who were not tenured they either got rid of them or moved them to the classrooms, said the librarian.
With the ranks of librarians already thinned due to cuts moving them to teaching posts is a further blow to elementary school libraries, said the librarian. She said at a time when the city has been pushing harder and harder to ensure all its students are reading at grade level it makes little sense to transfer librarians to classrooms.
State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans is reviewing the budget to see if some of the librarian positions that were recently cut can be brought back, said Corallo.
“The kids are not going to go to the public library in town. It just doesn’t happen, they don’t go there. So there’s no place for these kids to take out books,” said the librarian. She said the parents of city school students are very likely unaware of what is happening to elementary school libraries.
“If that is the accommodation that schools are making because of the funding problem and the teacher shortage as a result of the illegal underfunding of the school district then the parents should know about that and there should be some push-back on that situation,” said Hodges.
The school board president said the cuts and the transfers are a direct result of Chris Christie Administration’s underfunding of the local school district. “I don’t think this illegal funding situation is without repercussions. And that would be one of them,” said Hodges.