Starting next year, most school libraries in Newark will be missing a key aspect – librarians.
That is unless the and its Board of Education choose to reverse cuts to library services that were approved in December 2010
But as of late last week, Superintendent of Schools Dave Marken said the proposed cuts still stand.
“Every school district is in a world of hurt,” Marken said. “That passing will keep us just above ground.”
Still, elementary school librarians said the elimination of library services could hurt students’ learning.
“Our primary job is to support the curriculum in the classroom,” said Teri Marzano, ’s librarian of 15 years.
Librarian Laura De La Cruz said librarians often help teach students skills and subjects that teachers might not have the time to present during class time.
And librarians help students learn how to use library collections for research projects, said Beth Lyness, who has worked as a librarian at Musick Elementary School for the past 21 years.
The school district currently employs nine school librarians – one at each of the district’s elementary schools and one at , according to Senior Director of Human Resources Tim Erwin.
has a credentialed librarian.
The district funds library clerks at 19.5 hours per week but individual school sites may have reduced library hours based on funds and others might have more library hours based on monies raised by donations through parent organizations, Erwin said.
While librarians said they understand revenue losses coming from the state has impacted the district’s budget, each of them said they believe it is important that the district re-consider the cuts.
“The library is one of the last [benefits] that all teachers experience,” Lyness said. “If that disintegrates, [duties are] going to revert to the classroom teachers… There will be no one to manage the collection.”
Marzano added, “There’s nothing better than to watch a kid get excited about reading… My goal is to make them come to the library and want to read.”
District officials said the cuts will be reviewed again once the district enters “the budget development process,” according to Erwin.
Marken noted that administrators have already begun talking about finding alternative solutions to avoid or reduce such cuts.
“We prefer to make absolutely not any of those cuts,” Marken said. “We’re in a bit of a different financial situation than we were in December 2010. Nevertheless, we have to be cautious.”
The superintendent emphasized the district is required to have a balanced budged with a “positive certification” and that due to state cuts, it has proved to be a challenge.
“It puts us in a difficult position and the board in a difficult position,” Marken said. “[But] We believe having libraries opens and counselors at our schools... all of those things we believe are important to health and vitality of our schools.”
According to district documents, library services for the current school year were funded through the Federal Education Jobs Bill and alternative sources of funding is necessary in order to continue those services.
The document also notes the proposed closure of the College Career Center at Newark Memorial High School and a total reduction of one full-time equivalent counselor position within the school district. See the attached PDF for more information.