Budget cuts drastically impact school libraries
Did you know the school libraries in our Valley are facing huge challenges after yet another funding cut? As a result our children, especially those in K-5, are losing out. All K-12 libraries were cut one full day, four years ago. Then last year, the decision was made to cut another day each week from the elementary school libraries. That is two full days each that the libraries are closed. As school librarians, we want to make sure everyone is aware of what is happening, as this community belongs to all of us.
These cuts are unfortunate and troubling, particularly when you consider the many literacy needs being met in these large “classrooms.” With few books at home and decreased access to the public library, the school library is the only library many students have access to. Research proves that kids need regular access to books in order to become proficient readers. The effect of school libraries on student literacy gains is undeniable. The district’s strategic plan requires all children to be reading at grade level by the third grade. This is achieved only by having students reading on a regular basis and having regular access to books.
This last cut drastically impacts elementary school libraries. Not only do librarians read age-appropriate material to every classroom, they check out books, recommend books appropriate to the student, purchase new books, shelve and process returning books, along with myriad other duties. As a result of reduced library hours, students are hurried out the door without getting the help they really need. Funds for new books are nonexistent.
What can be done?
Proposition 30, on the Nov. 6 ballot, would establish a dedicated “Education Protection Account,” yielding an additional $2.9 billion for education next year. If it is not passed, state law calls for $4.8 billion in automatic “trigger cuts” to public schools. Please vote.
In addition, we need to explore reinstatement of the last cut of $35,000.
People can make monetary donations to the school libraries by sending checks, payable to SVUSD/School Libraries, to the SVUSD, 17850 Railroad Ave., Sonoma, CA 95476.
School libraries make a difference in the lives of our students. The school district’s strategic plan envisions all students to be college and career ready, and public school libraries are foundational partners in this endeavor. Please support our libraries and remember to vote Nov. 6.
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Roseanne Goertzen is librarian technician at Dunbar School. She writes on behalf of librarians and library techs of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District.