Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rupert trustee candidates answer teacher questions

Northern View: 2008 November 8

Editor's note: Below are the answers of the Prince Rupert school trustee candidates to six questions posed by the Prince Rupert District Teacher's Union. The questions were posed by, and answers collected by, the PRDTU...

Question 5: Teachers are concerned about the erosion of library services in a district which has literacy as a high profile goal. Students have less access to libraries, Library Assistants have been cut back, and most elementary Teacher-Librarians have been replaced by Principals. What is your position on this issue?

Louisa Sanchez: Erosion of library services is indeed problematic considering the fact that LITERACY is one of our district goals. Many of our public schools libraries are close & some are open only part of the day. I visited and spoke to some of our library aides who are very concerned re: time given to do their job. I was appalled at what I saw and heard. We must all make the effort to ensure that our schools have resources to provide the print and electronic sources, the technology and the professional library staff to give all our children the skills and tools they need to navigate their way in this knowledge society. What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it thinks about education. We must show that we value our school libraries by putting back our qualified librarians into our libraries and have them open on an all day basis.

Russell Wiens: I am embarrassed, we have set Literacy as our highest goal in the District. We have not shown ourselves to be the champions we need to be to make this happen.

Tina Last: I was very relieved to learn of the restoration of the library assistant’s hours. It seemed hypocritical to have literacy as a district goal and then limit the opportunity for students to access the tools needed to be successful at that goal. Libraries are the hubs of schools. They are a calm welcoming environment in a school and a place we want students to enjoy being and value. Simply put, they need to be open and accessible. As for who is manning the library I believe the teacher librarians while very important there can be difficulty in maintaining the continuity of that position. Where as the library assistants have often been in the library for a number of years and have developed a keen sense of that library, the students who frequent it and “own” its place within the school culture.

Terri-Lynne Huddlestone: The District Improvement Team acknowledged early on in their revision of the District Accountability Contract that one of the objectives for the district would be "To improve reading comprehension for every student in K-12". At that time, the Team made recommendations in their plan for specific actions to support this such as developing a district reading plan; implementing a district wide reading assessment; create a position on the District Service Team that will focus on supporting reading programming in K-9 classrooms; support the reading success of First Nations students; ensure that part of the secondary teacher librarian FTE is used to implement activities for students exceeding expectations in reading; maintain Literacy Support positions at both secondary schools at 0.25 FTE each; increased LRT (or other) FTE to support reading for gr. 1 students at risk; and create reading support blocks. These are just some of the actions that have been included in the contract, however, due to the significant budget shortfall that the Board of Education was faced with earlier this spring, many of these items were cut as funds were no longer available to support these. This included cut backs in staffing levels for our library assistants and other services within our schools.

Access to our libraries is crucial for our students. It is a learning centre in itself and the students should have the accessibility to be in there. The librarian assistants are crucial to the operation of the library. It is my understanding that based on our student enrollment at the end of September, the district had received funding that would help to reinstate teacher librarian time in the schools. While some Principals have assumed roles within the library, this has been a practice that has long been established in our district, this is not something new. Having a district goal of literacy and wanting to improve reading comprehension for our students, library time for our students is an important component to help them succeed.

Dorothy McLean: This is not fair to our Students, our Principals or our Library staff! I do not believe we should be cutting our staffing numbers from our Libraries, due to the fact that we have literacy as a high profile goal. Students need more access to Libraries not less, and we should not be taking Principals from other important duties. I do not believe that a school can provide a high standard of education with a part time Principal. Fund Libraries in All Schools, STOP CLOSING our Libraries!

Bart Kuntz: Extremely important topic, as we all know literacy and libraries go hand in hand. In support at September’s board meeting the staff recommended to add a portion of librarian time back from the previous spring budget had slated. I also sit on the DIT, which holds libraries and librarians in high priority to support literacy.

Brian Johnson: Principals are not librarians and they add to the cost of running our libraries. Our libraries should be open all day long when our schools are open with qualified librarians.

Leonard Alexcee: Library services play an important and vital role in our childrens' education. I am pleased to hear that librarian assistance may be reinstated because the librarian is the most important position in all schools. I would certainly seek to ensure that library services are all that they can be in our system.

June Lewis: As mentioned earlier, I am concerned with the fact that our children’s schools are lacking in Library use because of the size and the larger amount of children trying to access the same books. Reading is number one in all aspects of education. Reading will open all doors to all skills of life. It is a major tool in math, history, sciences, social studies etc. My children’s library is smaller then the one they had, the books available don’t challenge their minds. I am grateful I have talked with the principal and begun the process of looking into getting more. But you see this really shouldn’t have happened (school closers). But because this happened, this process should have been in place already.

Leona Peardon: Any loss of education opportunity should not and must not happen.