School District Cuts Corners

After the news hit last spring of the removal of the librarian position, students filing into the Library this year are surprised to find a helpful hand in research, books and study time.

“I thought we weren’t going to have a librarian this year but when I went in to do homework, I saw someone there to help the students” Katarina Uebelhor, senior, said.

However, Lauren Valentino, new to our school’s staff this year, is not a Librarian. The correct term for her position, as named by the San Dieguito Unified School District, is “Library Technician.” Ms. Valentino, who oversees the Media Center, helps students with research, order books, makes reading recommendations, and takes care of the library, yet despite her extensive training, she isn’t technically categorized as a “Librarian.”

“I have a lot of tech duties like fixing passwords and creating the library website. I help with book searches and recommendations and I am responsible for media center care. A restriction I have is that I can’t teach any classes”. Valentino, said.

In the face of budget revisions of $2.8 million last year, our school district made the decision to cut the position of Librarian. Many teachers, as well as outspoken students, voiced their opinions on the pivotal importance of a school librarian in a student’s learning experience.

“The thing that is irreplaceable is [Mrs. Talmage’s] set up and organization of the academic research process.” Matt Cunningham, English teacher, said. The database and other resources were cut along with her position and her knowledge of library functions.

The media technician is an example of the recent effort to employ classified workers rather than certified workers. Certified positions are those that require certificated proof to teach where classified positions include attendance staff, custodial jobs, and food service where the certified proof isn’t required. The idea is to remove the job that requires a teaching credential, a more expensive position, and put in a classified position with a different job title and less of a cost.

“My job is to insure the equity of the position so the classified worker won’t be doing the same job for lesser pay ” Ron Tackett, the president of the classified emplyees union, said. Because the classified workers titles are different from that of a certified employee, the job expectations vary as well.

There have been similar situations to that of the library technician. In EL learners classrooms, the bilingual instructional aids position was cut was replaced with AVID tutors.

” AVID tutors were the best solution for a bummer situation” Mrs. Groseclose, AVID Coordinator, said. AVID tutors are students do not have the same training as a bilingual instructional aid and are still in college. Thus, they are temporary employees, which excludes them from benefits like a permanent salary and health insurance.

“The least fluent kids needed bilingual aids and a librarian so these cuts are hurting those who really need the help” Mr. Cunningham, EL teacher, said.

The seemingly decreasing number of employees, whether classified or credentialed, proves to be upsetting for both students and staff. Reductions have been made in most areas of the school from custodial help to the attendance office department to number of classes available. The resources students have relied on are dwindling because of a limited budget.

“It is beyond the administration here. Funding problems are at the state level; Something is going on in the state of California, really.” Mr. Cunningham said.

Though the root of budget cuts may be distant, the effects are very close. The San Dieguito Union High School District has used classified workers in the place of certified workers, like that of our new library media technician. Changes are being made on state and local levels and as a result, students and staff face a new structure in the school system.

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