Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Concern for school libraries

100 Mile House Free Press
2010 March 2

Because of an anticipated $3.4-million cut by the Ministry of Education to School District 27's 2010/11 funding, the board of trustees has been given the impossible task of cutting the budget again after a long history of previous cuts.

Having served in both teaching and non-teaching capacities in this school district for over 25 years, I have observed first-hand what has happened to our school library services since the cuts started happening in the 1990s. 

In contrast to when I was hired as a full-time teacher-librarian in 1974, library services are now provided in our south-end secondary schools by teaching staff, hired with neither a major in school library services nor with any previous teacher-librarian background, and assigned less than one hour per day in which to provide their limited library services. Furthermore, the half-time library clerical support at both secondary schools has been reduced to six or seven hours per week. 

I must mention our two daughters, who were educated in this school district, thankfully went through the system before the major cuts. I know from their input they benefited greatly during their secondary school years by the services provided by full-time, qualified teacher-librarians, assisted by their half-time clerical support. 

It appears that those days are gone, and sadly our students now do not have the benefits that previous students enjoyed. 

Our school district's No. 1 priority is supposed to be literacy, yet school library services have become crippled by drastic staffing cuts. Having lost an arm and a leg, how could they be dismembered any further? 

More cuts would be a death-blow and would return us to a time when schools did not have library service -- a time that few, if any, of us would remember.
Is this provincial government, by increasingly under funding education, going to set back education to the level of a century ago? 

I sincerely hope not.

Barbara Fyten
108 Mile Ranch