The Houston Independent School District says that the 28 schools that are under its New Education System initiative will no longer have dedicated librarians.
KPRC-TV reports that the district will be using some of the libraries as ‘Team Centers” where kids with behavioral issues will be sent.
This comes as part of new superintendent Mike Miles' reform program, New Education System (NES). A total of 85 schools that have joined Miles’ program, and of those, 28 campuses will lose their librarians. The district said they will have the opportunity to transition to other roles within the district.
The remaining 57 NES schools’ librarians will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, according to the district.
Former district librarian and Manager of Library Services Janice Newsum believes eliminating librarian positions could hurt reading performance even more.
“When students engage in reading as an activity of choice, they are not only building that reading muscle, but they are also developing their vocabulary they are understanding a bit about the world that exists outside their block radius,” said Newsum.
Mayor Sylvester Turner believes the move is unacceptable.
“You don’t close libraries in some of the schools in your most underserved communities, and you’re keeping libraries open in other schools,” said Turner.
The district said the libraries will not be closed, just used for different purposes.
Some of the library spaces will now be turned into “Team Center,” designed for students to work individually or in teams throughout the school day. Students with behavioral issues will also be placed in the Team Center where they will be able to join their class virtually.