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Spokane (Wash.) district is eliminating school librarians

April 15, 2019
District is making cuts to deal with a projected $31 million deficit in 2019-20.

Every librarian working for the Spokane (Wash.) school district has received notice that their jobs will be eliminated next year.

The Spokane Spokesman-Review reports that those with less experience will probably be laid off this summer, as the district confronts a projected $31 million deficit next year.

Other librarians have been placed in an “involuntary transfer pool,” and may be teaching in a classroom in the fall.

As part of a message regarding potential layoffs, Superintendent Shelley Redinger says the district will “change the library model districtwide.”

Elementary school teachers will bring their students into the libraries for designated periods.

“Students will still have access to library books and materials the same way they do now,” says district spokesman Brian Coddington. “The students’ experience in the library will revolve around their classroom teacher.”

It’s unclear how much money the district will save by eliminating library positions.

Last year, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that from 2009 to 2016, more than 9,000 full-time equivalent school library positions were eliminated. That’s about 15 percent of all positions nationwide.

Spokane school librarian Stephanie Oakes is one of those whose job is being eliminated.

“I’m distraught for what this means for our district, for our students who will grow up without everything that a school librarian provides,” she says.

That includes ordering the right books and offering specialized help.

Other duties may include instruction of students in library science; lesson planning and professional planning with teachers; and training faculty and students in the use of technology.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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