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Future of School Libraries Unclear With Layoffs Looming

The school district will consider laying off 42 employees Wednesday, including many library staff.

Hours at middle school libraries could be dramatically slashed as the district considers laying off 42 employees, but the specifics of the cuts still need to be worked out, a district official said Monday.

The MUSD Board of Education in an effort to close the district's projected $2.7 million budget deficit for 2013. Seven library technicians and media specialists may lose their jobs under the plan, but no librarian positions would be eliminated.

Still, libraries at and stand to have their hours cut significantly. Asked what those cuts might mean, Superintenedent Linda Wagner said only that the details of those cuts are still being hashed out.

"The sites will need to develop a plan for library access," Wagner wrote in an email.  "Schedules are not known at this time."

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Marcie Hoopes, the head of Clifton's English department, said she was told that librarian positions at the middle schools would be cut to 3 1/2 hours per day, a reduction her department finds "untenable." Hoopes said that cutting budget items that impact literacy programs should be a last resort.

"We really feel like that's going to be an untenable situation, simply because of the level of literacy development that we do at the school," Hoopes said. "I feel that there are areas that can be cut and that reading and reading development should be the last place that the school should cut."

Hoopes said parents and teachers will make a final stand at Wednesday's school board meeting. The last time library cuts were discussed, by holding up signs with messages like "What is a Library Without a Librarian?"

The district does not yet know how much money the layoffs will save and no other layoffs are being considered at this time, according to Wagner. She said the level of service provided by the district will not measure up to what it had provided in the past.

"We will continue to provide services to students in the classroom as needed," Wagner wrote. "We have already cut the school year by five days and increased K-3 class size from 20 to 32 students. The district cannot support all the programs we have had in the past."

Hoopes complained that the district has provided limited access to its books, so it has been difficult to identify other areas that could be cut. She said the district could save money by discontinuing uniform cleaning services for athletes and reducing the band's travel budget.

"Our frustration with the board is and continues to be that they're really not giving us the whole story," Hoopes said. "We don't know what else is out there because they haven't been transparent about what is happening in those categories. They're not even giving us the information to make an argument against them."

Hoopes said teachers understand that the ongoing budget crisis makes cuts inevitable, but insisted that the decisions should be made with more transparency.

"I think Monrovia understands budget cuts," Hoopes said. "What we don't understand is budget amputations. I think that the district is underestimating the willingness of Monrovia community to work together in productive ways to come to solutions that are as favorable for everyone."

Janie Duncan June 22, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Reading Writing and Arithmetic are the basics. How can the Monrovia School Board take the reading out of our schools? Shame on you!
sayitisntso June 22, 2011 at 11:02 PM
If I remember correctly the Monrovia Voters passed a ten million dollar bond to build a large new library that they sold to the voters as necessary for the youth of our community, so why do we even need libraries in individual schools anyway. I would like to know where all of the protesters think the MUSD board or anyone else could come up with the funds to stop the proposed layoffs. The parents along with the school employees should be down screaming and waving signs at their union meetings. It's your unions that helped create this mess, not the MUSD Board or Superintendent. Your unions are not taking care of you. You can bet that your union bosses are getting raises and sitting on their fat backsides still expecting you to pay your dues. Until you union members are willing to deal with your unions and the mess they created with the campaign contributions the spread around Sacramento to re-elect these useless legislators then I have no sympathy for any of you.

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