Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is beginning its school year with 508 less teachers across the district, and, according to reports, more than 60 school librarians have also been cut.
WBEZ recently reported that CPS librarian numbers have been decreasing over the years, from 454 librarians budgeted in 2012 to 217 in 2015 and now this year, only 160. For local schools, some haven’t had a budget for a librarian in years.
According to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), school librarians are not required, and the decision to require librarians or have librarians lies at the state level.
Bret Harte Elementary School, 1556 E. 56th St., has not had a librarian since several budget cuts ago, and Reavis Elementary School, 834 E. 50th St., also currently does not have a librarian. Shoesmith Elementary, 1330 E. 50th St., has not had a librarian for two years.
“Our former librarian retired and there was a shortage of librarians in the talent pool to replace her,” said Shoesmith principal, Sabrina Gates. “As a result, Shoesmith doesn’t offer ‘Library’ as a class anymore. All of our books from the library were moved into the classrooms and we now use that space for general music, band and the drum line.”
Gates said each classroom has its own library where students check out pieces of children and young adult literature regularly.
Some of the now vacant school libraries have turned into testing centers or media centers where students go to take tests or have extra study time instead of browsing bookshelves and learning about the importance of reading.
Not every school is struggling, though. Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., and Murray Language Academy, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave., both have librarians and successful library programs for its students.
Ray Elementary School, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., also has a dedicated librarian and parent volunteers. Ray parent Anne Renna has volunteered at the school’s library along with another parent volunteer about two hours per week to help in assisting Ray’s full-time teaching librarian, Linda Collins.
Renna said that from what she can sense, librarians seem to be the first to go when it comes to staff cuts at CPS.
“Ray is fortunate to have an excellent school librarian,” Renna said. “I think it is disgraceful that our schools are not sufficiently funded to ensure that every school has a librarian.”
[Via: Hyde Park Herald]