The Cabell County Board of Education has eliminated all elementary librarian positions beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.
At the board meeting on May 15th, the Cabell County Board of Education in West Virginia decided to eliminate the elementary librarian positions for the 2018-2019 school year to save a little more than $400,000. They also voted in favor of replacing the track and turf at one of the local high schools ($728,104) as well as the purchase of over 1,200 Apple iPads and laptops costing the district almost 1.5 million dollars. Additionally, in the budget for the 2018-2019 school year, the county will be implementing an employee attendance incentive program on a trial run for one year, and money that is saved from eliminating the librarian positions will be used towards this program as well. This program has been run in other states in the past, and the Hanover research company discovered that they were not successful and did not improve employee attendance - in some schools, the employee attendance worsened
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The elementary age group is such a malleable time period. Being able to encourage children at this age to read and to get excited about reading is such an important job. With librarians gone, classroom teachers will have to add library time to their already-full schedules, and they may not even be able to take their students as consistently as they do now because the teachers will be tasked with yet another responsibility on top of teaching their core curriculum. Additionally, schools will have to rely on volunteers to maintain the library collection.
Additionally, the library media specialists in Cabell County serve a much broader purpose than simply checking books in and out. School librarians supplement all the core subjects that are taught in the classroom: English, Math, Social Studies, and Science. librarians supplement English by teaching students about print, non-print, and electronic resources available in the library, fictional story elements, and types of literature. Librarians supplement Math and Social Studies through the study of maps, globes, and atlases. This is not only supplementing material being taught in the core classroom, but it is also applicable to life outside of school.
Finally, librarians teach social responsibility, including legal principles and ethical policies and conduct as well as social and ethical issues surrounding the use of information. These skills are so important for students to receive a background in before entering middle school. Students also learn how to work independently on projects as well as how to work effectively and efficiently in a group setting on projects and other work.
In a time when we are discussing investing in our students' educational experiences and making goals towards improving literacy, we must focus on our students where they begin - in the elementary schools. Taking away access to highly qualified library media specialists is not providing students with a well-rounded quality education, especially when our county has such a need in the area of literacy. Please help us by signing this petition to ask the Cabell County Board of Education to reconsider eliminating all elementary librarians, rescind their decision, and return our librarians for the 2018-2019 school year.