Thursday, March 4, 2010

AAPS, Libraries, and Transparency

It was just happenstance that I wrote about libraries in my last post. Seriously, I was not expecting to get this in my inbox yesterday from a school PTO liaison:
We have recently learned of a slew of proposed cuts to our schools’ library programs, and these cuts have not been widely discussed as part of the larger public budget discussions going on.
It appears that administrators are proposing discontinuing all library classes, having the librarians teach tech ed, and having nobody (parent volunteers?) maintain the libraries.

It is also our understanding that there are alternate proposals that involve cutting FTE’s by reducing media services at over-staffed locations, which would save just as much money (perhaps more?), and not necessitate these drastic changes.  Unfortunately, it looks like momentum is favoring the former proposal, and doing so without any public input, as the public has not been made aware of this.

I encourage any of you concerned with this possible development to contact the School Board, Superintendent Roberts, and the Administrator for Elementary Education, LeeAnn Dickinson-Kelley, to tell them your feelings about this (email addresses below).  
And here are some email addresses that might be useful:
Superintendent Todd Roberts:
Administrator for Elementary Education, LeeAnn Dickinson-Kelley:
AAPS School Board:
Please feel free to pass on this information to any other parents within the AAPS who might be interested. (Emphases added.)

Could I find anything about this on the AAPS web site? Nooooo. Will the other options save more, or the same amount of money? I have no idea, but if that is true, I'd like to know why they are thinking about this option.

OK, so--school board and administration--here is a RECAP for you. 

I was at a millage meeting, and someone asked Todd Roberts what people mean when they are talking about transparency. He said, roughly, "I have no idea. Our budget is on our web site."
In a follow-up blog post, I explain what I think people mean by transparency. Read about that here and here.
Todd Roberts, this is another example. This is not transparency. If you have "new ideas" about ways to save money for the school district (which is good), then share them publicly. Keep us updated. Sharing information with the public should not be window dressing. You have a web site. You have a new newsletter. You have a budget page on your web site. That would be transparency.
What are you waiting for?


  1. What locations are overstaffed?
    Define that? Anybody who is accused of being overstaffed probably won't admit that.
    It's not like they are shutting down libraries, and parent volunteers to run the libraries seems fair. So what if librarians tech ed? What is the difference between tech ed and library class?

  2. AAPS faces very difficult decisions due to the serious budget issues before us. There will be some trade offs between equally important priorities as the district struggles to address the deficit before us.

    I can assure you there are no immediate plans ---and there has never been any conversation to my knowledge-- to eliminate library services or access to our school media centers. Students will continue to have access to the elementary media center, able to check out books from the media collection and able to benefit from instruction from the media specialist/ ILT teacher.

    There is a proposal to make some changes in allocation of media staff across the district. This was discussed in the budget forums. The difference between large and small elementary schools with respect to maintaining full time media specialists at each building is not economically sustainable any longer. However, even in this dire economic climate we are working very hard to increase instructional technology instruction (ILT) K-5 next year--which has been a priority amongst media specialists for years. This will enhance ILT access to all grades, not reduce it and make the ILT instruction more equitable from school to school.

    The Ann Arbor Public Schools has a very strong history of providing an effective literacy rich learning environment. The district has invested heavy in our literacy framework (leveled text), classroom libraries (read aloud materials) and expanded literacy materials (expository and narrative text alike). While there is a correlation between a district's investment in literacy rich environments and achievement, the overall context and priority placed on literacy instruction is the most compelling variable. An effective learning environment should not limit access to good literature available only from the media center but rather provide a ubiquitous opportunity throughout the instructional day, classroom and media center alike. You can be very confident that the Ann Arbor Public Schools has done so and will continue to do so.

  3. Anon,

    All I know is what was in the email that I got from the PTO liaison.

    Liz, If it is the case that there are no *new* proposals (new from the time of the budget forums), then do you have any idea why it is that the email from the PTO liaison says that there is a new proposal? I assume they got it from somewhere...

    Thanks, Ruth

  4. So they want to move media people around, or have them do something besides the library, I think that is reasonable.Do they want to do this with less people or do they want the same amount of people to do more?
    It's a bigger picture issue, will the union negotiate more or less with teacher's times?
    There's going to be some people who lose out much more on this budget problem than others unless everyone wants to take an across the board hit, and it doesn't look like anyone wants to take any kind of hit at all.
    The district will have to do the best they can with the cards that have been dealt, but you can't complain everytime they make a move, especially in the unions take a hard line to paycuts.

  5. Anon, My question was, are they planning to do something different from what had been suggested at the budget meetings, without discussion? The email I got suggests that the answer is yes. Liz Margolis' comment above suggests that the answer is no. Because I very much believe that process is important, I hope that Liz is correct, and that the email I got was based on rumors.

  6. The email that was sent out contained incorrect information. The plan has not changed from what was presented at the budget forums. The plan presented stated restructuring and reductions of media and technology programs. What that entails is being worked out directly with the media specialists.

  7. The information contained in the email was not incorrect.

    The good news is that, since there has been an outpouring of parental concern and support of media specialists (in the form of emails and such to the school board, superintendent, etc), there has been some back-tracking.

    There is a big difference between reducing FTEs (a proposal was floated that would reduce the media specialists by 8 FTEs -- more than was even requested, by aligning coverage with student population -- ie: more students, more librarian time), and the suggestion of taking the media specialists OUT of the libraries entirely. I can assure you the information was not incorrect.


  8. Thanks Julie--this reminds me a little bit of the Saline/Math discussion that I wrote about here: