Worried about proposed cuts to school librarian positions? How to help.

To: CHPSPO, DCPS and ‘Friends of’ Community…

I’d like to ask your help in spreading the word about the proposed changes DCPS is planning to make to funding school libraries.  Schools with under 300 students will no longer have a librarian position funded from the DCPS budget, and funding for librarians in schools with an enrollment of over 300 students will be moved into the flexible spending category.  Peter MacPherson testified on behalf of CHPSPO against these changes to funding school libraries at the March DC Council budget hearing on the DCPS FY12-13 budget.

Please e-mail the letter at the end of this message to Mayor Gray, Chairman Brown, and Chancellor Kaya Henderson, along with a cc: to the City Council members and the Deputy Mayor for Education (all listed below).  It is our understanding the DC Council will mark-up the DCPS budget on Thursday, so it is important to get this message out early in the week.  While many of the schools on Capitol Hill will not be seriously impacted by the changes this year because their enrollment is over 300 students and their principal understands the importance of a librarian to a well-run and thriving school library, we must speak out now on this issue before further damage is done to schools across the city.

These will likely be the most important e-mails any of us send this week. The request is simple.  Please e-mail the letter at the end of this message to the following:

vincent.gray@dc.gov
kaya.henderson@dc.gov
kbrown@dccouncil.us
deshawn.wright@dc.gov
dcatania@dccouncil.us
pmendelson@dccouncil.us
mbrown@dccouncil.us
vorange@dccouncil.us
jgraham@dccouncil.us
jevans@dccouncil.us
mcheh@dccouncil.us
mbowser@dccouncil.us
twells@dccouncil.us
yalexander@dccouncil.us
mbarry@dccouncil.us

I have already sent this e-mail, and I hope all of you will join me.  Thank you.

Suzanne Wells

——————————-

Dear Mayor Gray, Chairman Brown, and Chancellor Kaya Henderson:

As a DCPS parent, I am writing to urge you to reconsider the cuts to school librarian positions in the proposed 2012-2013 budget.  In the next academic year, schools with under 300 students will no longer have a librarian position funded from the DCPS budget. Additionally, the funding for librarians in schools with an enrollment of over 300 will have the funding for the position moved into the flexible spending category. This means principals can elect not to have a librarian.

School librarians don’t just check books in and out.  These positions are essential to building high-performing, high-achieving schools and growing strong readers.  Librarians are trained experts who teach information literacy skills critical to helping students become well-informed, thoughtful citizens as well as career- and college-ready young adults.

There is an enormous body of research showing librarians and school libraries are an important tool in promoting literacy and improving reading scores, particularly among children in poverty.  Children learn to read by reading.  School libraries help students build their reading skills, and develop a life-long love of reading.

DCPS must rethink its approach to supporting school libraries.  As DCPS seeks to have at least 70% of its students proficient in reading by SY2016-17, now is the time to be making investments in school libraries, not disinvestments.  Now is the time to prove what’s possible with proven methods.  DCPS should:

– fund a librarian at every school, regardless of size;
– provide a per student book allocation to each school to keep the collections and magazine subscriptions current (note that Arlington County provides its schools with a $21.75 per student book allocation); and
– invest in electronic reading devices and e-books collections as a cost-effective way of quickly expanding the current collections.

Please do not handicap our students and our schools by eliminating librarians!  Now is the time to invest in our school libraries and update their collections and resources.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Your School

cc: DeShawn Wright, Deputy Mayor for Education
Councilmember Tommy Wells
Councilmember Mary M. Cheh
Councilmember David Catania
Councilmember Phil Mendelson
Councilmember Michael A. Brown
Councilmember Vincent Orange
Councilmember Jim Graham
Councilmember Jack Evans
Councilmember Muriel Bowser
Councilmember Yvette Alexander
Councilmember Marion Barry

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