Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Library Aide Positions Abolished

Our local school district in a cost saving measure did away with all library aides and computer aides in our county.

Below is the news article from the local paper concerning their decision

The Lee County Board of Education took steps Tuesday to reduce $1.2 million from its budget without eliminating teachers. The action includes not buying textbooks or software, reducing the number of days in employee contracts and not renewing some aide positions.

Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Nowlin said the system of about 1,100 employees would be cutting about 15 or 16 aides and perhaps a nurse.

“We don’t think we will have to eliminate any teaching positions,” Nowlin said.

The superintendent said some special ed aides who don’t have tenure would be replaced with tenured library aides, which means eliminating the library-aide positions.

He said those positions along with a couple of computer-lab positions would save about $450,000.

A letter writing campaign to try to preserve the aide positions was unsuccessful. The aide at my former school has been in the spot for 20 years. Now she will be moved to be a special education aide. All her expertise and experience and skills in the media center not being used.

Below is a copy of the letter I sent. Perhaps parts of it might be useful to some of you if you find yourself in this same position.

I was employed by Lee County Schools from 1994 until my retirement in May 2011 and served as media specialist at Smiths Station Intermediate for most of those years. The Lee County School System was innovative and supportive of our local library programs. Our county wide library program was heads above neighboring systems in Alabama. We were progressive, had district support and a cohesive and collaborative group of media specialists who worked together to provide the very best for the students in Lee County.

It would be a travesty to the library programs of the Lee County Schools and a giant step backwards in providing services to our students for the county to cut the library aide position. It is also a cruel response to the dedication of the current media specialists and aides in the county. Their dedication, hard work, and teamwork have made the programs they provide superior to what can be found in the surrounding counties. It is extremely unlikely that an effective library program can be run without the media aides. Lee County has employed aides in the school libraries I know since 1987.

A media center/library provides many services and learning opportunities to the students and faculty of the school. When staffed with a media specialist who is a certified teacher with a master’s degree in school library media and a paraprofessional library aide the level of service is outstanding. Take a look at the following tasks that the Lee County librarians provide with the assistance of their aides.

· teaches regularly scheduled classes each day

· has open checkout when any student can come check out books or use the computers

· provides research assistance

· provides book selection assistance

· collaborates with teachers assisting with their curriculum needs

· is responsible for collection development and book processing

· serves as a technology overseer and onsite tech repair person

in some schools oversees STI testing, STAR testing, and the computer lab

· administers the Accelerated Reader program

· instructs and documents student instruction in Internet Safety

· prepares monthly usage statistics

· prepares end of year media center and technology reports

· teaches 21 Century skills.

develops a yearly budget for the library based on state funds

· Is responsible for local fund raising

This is not just for one classroom of students but for the entire student body.

Sounds like an overwhelming job, but it is the support and presence of the library aide, there on the front lines too, performing her duties that enable the media specialist to carry out hers. The library aide is the face of the library, the person first seen upon entering and the person manning the circulation desk. They are the line of first defense for help and questions.

In the “Alabama’s School Library Media Handbook for the 21st Century Learner” which was approved by the Alabama State Board of Education on September 11, 2008 there is the following statement--the library media specialist has 40% of their instructional week “reserved for management responsibilities.” Without the presence of a library media aide this state mandate would be impossible to attain.

I ask you to consider carefully the damage that will occur to a presently superior program if these cuts are made.

I realize many systems are letting their media specialist go and using parapros to run their libraries. So far this has not happened here, however, this is still a big deal! Last school year our media center circulated 55,000 items.....running the library single handedly will be a huge huge huge task.