Friday, May 22, 2009

Librarian issue offers a peek into district thinking.

At our "evening of community enlightenment", Marla and Nick offered a rather feeble explanation as to why librarians at smaller schools need to be cut. Marla appears to believe that smaller schools must be populated with smaller children with smaller brains. Perhaps she thinks they come from smaller families, eat smaller meals and have smaller feet. Her logic is flawed and here is why.

If a smaller school needs to have less than a full time librarian, why not have less than a full time principal? If there are fewer students wandering the halls and sitting in classrooms, why not reduce the number of hours a principal works at the school? It wouldn't be the first time in human history that a principal performed the duties of a site administrator at more than a single school. A single principal could be shared by two smaller schools. Mornings could be at one location and afternoons at another. They are smaller schools after all.

Marla furthered her argument by suggesting it would be inequitable for a full time librarian to work at a small school because the time spent per student at a small school would be higher than at schools having more than 500 students. Applying this manner of reasoning would suggest it would also be unfair for a small school to have a full time principal because the time spent per student would be greater than at a larger school.

Can the same thinking be applied to maintenance and custodial staff? Would it make sense to reduce the number of hours spent at a facility because enrollment happens to be lower? Assuming the District still had a fully-staffed Grounds crew, would they mow a smaller portion of the field? Would a custodian clean a smaller portion of the school?

Of course, there are those of us that work in facilities that would call such a tactic "deferred maintenance". It could make sense to just limp along until enrollment increases and funds come rolling in from the State. The facility may suffer in the short run and the costs involved in making needed improvements may be significantly higher when performed at a later stage, but can the same tactic be used when educating our children? Have we adopted a philosophy of "deferred intelligence"?

This tactic smells a lot like the one year suspension of swimming. While it may improve the look of your budget to have the additional $20,000.00, it does absolutely nothing for those swimmers relying upon their involvement on the swim team to build a future. Whether we deprive a student of a pool or a librarian, there are core issues that directly improve the academic potential of students. While the District may see simple cuts as nothing more than a few dollars in the General Fund, their obsession with attacking children in the short run to garner long-term sympathy from voters is sad, disruptive and academically irresponsible.

As for the District's lawsuit against the State of Washington, are they suing for money that doesn't exist or suing to encourage change in the way government manages resources. I am a firm believer in the latter and the District lacks the capacity to know such a thing when they see it.

Blog: Today is a furlough day - part of a strategy used by some public agencies to apply an equitable distribution of financial consequences in dealing with the effects of budget reductions.


Anonymous said...

I could be wrong about this, but my understanding is that librarians, band, orchestra, general music and PE teachers all fill the role of "specialists." Specialists are not just there to serve our kids - their real role is to manage the kids while providing planning time for teachers that is mandated by WEA (Teacher's Union) contract. Consequently, smaller schools with fewer classrooms and fewer teachers can get by with less planning time. The librarians are being cut in the smaller schools for just that reason. At some point I'm wondering if the WEA will give up it's chokehold on our schools in the interests of better serving it's members. I don't believe the WEA has ever been about serving kids.

Anonymous said...

"Specialists" real role is to serve our kids. It is NOT the case that fewer kids means less planning time for teachers. Small school teachers are allowed the same amount of planning time as large school teachers. You are misinformed about that.

Anonymous said...

Teachers are allocated planning time based on class hours they teach. So yes, smaller schools have fewer teachers because they have fewer classrooms, and finding planning time for 24 classroom teachers requires more specialist hours than finding planning time for 12 classroom teachers. That's simple fact. And while I agree that the intent of specialists is to serve our kids, the role of specialists as curently utilized by district administration in elementary schools is to provide planning time for teachers. I'm not throwing stones at specialists, but I do contend their time with our kids is being used to fulfill bargained contracts with WEA. I'm not saying it's right, but I'm pointing out that the usefulness of specialists to administration is the only thing saving them from deeper cuts. I'm also attempting to address the issue of why smaller schools will see more specialist cuts than larger schools - it's pure dollars and cents, and yes, it's wrong, but it's bottom line.

Anonymous said...

To the first commentor: So please explain why my child who attends one of these "small schools", which has (10 fewer kids than the next school)deserves less research support, less access to library services, and less access for his teacher to get support aquiring instructional materials? Oh and son, forget the bookfair, forget the new book series that you were hoping to get your hands on because your librarian won't have time to order it because she will be servicing 800 plus kids and two sets of staff and two collections of books while the neighbor school librarian only has 430 students, half the staff and one collection???? It's an issue of EQUITY IN EDUCATION!!!...As far as the EEA??? They sure aren't going to bat for these librarians...Twice the work and the same pay but just for 2 librarians??? ....THIS IS WHERE EEA SHOULD BE SCREAMING AT THE DISTRICT!!! 4 librarians are being treated different than the others....wouldn't it make more sense to just reduce ALL the buildings an hour? so at least the cuts are across all the buildings? I just don't get it!

Trans Gal said...

Just for a second this morning I thought The Herald newspaper was finally going to enlighten its' readership with its' front page item but alas, it was the EVERETT School District that purchased a site with contaminated soil for their ESC. They're not waiting around, though, and have already started removing the soil. Maybe we should just leave the contaminated soil on our site and erect a building just for the Supe and his entourage and solve two problems at the same. time.

Anonymous said...

Well done ESD15.
The small school cuts need to have a bright light shined on them as much as possible. The ONLY reason there are small schools is because of boundaries; boundaries the school board created in the first place. The "problem" of a large school is solved in exactly the same way as the "problem" of a small school- new boundaries.
Ask any kid what makes school special, and at least one specialist will be mentioned. My child is a HUGE library fan. It's NOT just planning time for teachers. It's a full program. It's WRONG that my child would get a half time librarian. I pay the same taxes. I expect a full service school. Why would I support a levy when the money will go somewhere else?
That's my bottom line.

Anonymous said...

Nick and this person marla should be fired on the spot.

ESC mad hatter said...

The District leadership gets raises. 7% or 6% its still a raise and in return District leadership cuts Librarians. Hello people start raise'in some cane!. We don't have to listen to these crap through'in people anymore.

Anonymous said...

And the 12 Music teachers?

Anonymous said...

The only way to get rid of Marla and Nick is for parents to band together and insist to be heard at a Board meeting or a special meeting just for the purpose of being able to voice their opinions, which of course, Nick and Marla don't want to hear - perhaps the media could/should be invited. Employees can express their opinions on the BLOG, but it will take parents, tax payers, to make a real difference. Get the word out Bloggers!

Anonymous said...

Thru the eyes of Linda H

I hear the board say they want community members to come to board meetings and be heard and it is the one place that they are suppose to have that privilege. But if the community member ask the wrong question or questions something that is being done in our district with their tax dollars Nick jumps on them like a dog to a bone. I don't enjoy the board meetings because of the way our community members are treated during the board comment time. Don't talk with fork tongue. Do you truly want to hear from us? I think NOT!
I see why the community decides to stay home because they are not valued by the district/Nick. When it is time for a levy to be passed quess who is carrying the mob and bucket the community as they pass the levy for the benefit of their children. Classified support staff have been carrying the bucket and mop for years and when are they shown that they are valued? The support staff work in the district because they care about the students and they do make a difference in the lives of students every day. Way to go classified support staff!!