There is a strong possiblity that I will not have a library assistant next year. Last year the elementary school librarian lost their assistants. This is just one of many types of cuts that the district has been making. Are there schools out there going through the same situation? Are there schools that have lost and then regained their assistants back? What things have you done to get the assistants back?

Tags: assistants, library

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Our school district is using the library assistants to do intervention with young students and stretching them where ever they can. The assistants are stretched all over, and there are times when I'm not there and neither is the assistant. We've had to teach the teachers how to do self-checkout with their students, if they want to come into the library when neither one of us is there. I have two schools and two assistants. Both get pulled for various things, working in the computer lab and doing intervention with younger students are two activities that take up major time. There are cutbacks in the budget each school year. Unfortunately, some of the assistants times were cut.
One thing our assistants have is a union. Does yours? I've been an advocate for an assistant and will continue to advocate for assistant time. I'm considered "Prep" time for teachers and have classes all day long; I need an assistant for help. The assistants (one at each school) also do bus duty, lunch and playground duty, one assists in the computer lab, and one does reading intervention. The teacher's union is getting involved in the reading intervention issue, trying to advocate that certified professionals fill the role of a reading interventionist, not someone who hasn't been trained. Why not make a list of all the duties and needs you have and present the list to your principal(s)?
I think that our assistants had relied on their union, and it didn't help them. Wow, assistants pulled for all of the other things. Our elementary librarians are also being used for "Prep" time. The two that don't have as many classes during the week are also pulled for reading intervention and computer lab. I like your idea. I'll do that!
My district came close to losing our elementary library paras 3 years ago, in a somewhat well-meaning but misguided admin move to fund a reinstated to full-time professional position. When we heard of the budget proposal, we pulled out Keith Curry Lance's library program efficacy research as documented in School Libraries Work. To pay a professional teacher to shelve and run circulation is not very cost-effective- not to mention all the lost teaching opportunities. We asked fellow staff members and our building administrators to write letters of support identifying collaborations that would not be possible if we were tethered to the circulation desk all day, and also to document how important having the library open and staffed so students could arrive to research, read, and work whenever a question/need developed during the day. We asked that people write letters of support to not only their school board members, but the school board as a whole, copying us and the superintendent as well. In advance of the final open budget hearing, we compiled all of the correspondence along with copies of Libraries That Work and a DVD with a multimedia presentation documenting successful district library media projects, so board members would have time to examine the materials. We used a combination of factual supports (SLW, the value of our collections), and personal anecdotes (staff and family letters about their student's successes) to paint a picture of our program, and the impact of the proposed budget cuts.

At the budget hearing itself, we made a brief statement about how libraries affect ALL the students in a school, and effectively and efficiently manage (collectively) millions of dollars of resources. Then we asked everyone in the audience who supported the work of our school libraries to stand... all but 3 or 4 people rose to their feet. As we thanked the board for their time, one school board member was heard to say, "wow, that says it all." Later that evening, the board restored the funds for our library paras, and reinstated all librarians to full-time positions in their buildings. Advocacy is a lot of effort- but it can work. Good luck to you and your program!
Thanks for taking the time to respond. I was unaware of the Lance's research! It sounds like quite a presentation...

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