Update & Thank you from the WW librarian

Dear Wildwood Families:

Thank you for your support. In the form of letters and raised voices, many families and Amherst citizens have spoken out against the cut of the library paraeducators. At Tuesday’s school committee meeting, over 10 people (2 students included) spoke during the public comment time, so many that the chairperson had to stop the comments. Many of the speakers were parents and volunteers who have witnessed first-hand the importance of our school’s library program.

I believe public outcry from letters to a strong showing at Tuesday’s meeting have lead to positive changes! School committee members Rick Hood and Vira Douangmany Cage had several suggestions for finding the money to restore the paraeducator positions. I hope Amherst Media will post the meeting soon (https://www.amherstmedia.org/content/amherst-school-committee)

I am happy report that today at the Joint Capital Planning Committee meeting Maria Geryk requested that the $40,000 wireless upgrade be moved out of the school operating budget and into the capital budget:

Please continue to speak out in support of our libraries! The message is being heard! Write to the school committee:

I wanted to share with you what I said during the public comment at the school committee meeting:

My name is Susan Wells, I was hired to run the WW library program just 6 short months ago.

Cutting the library paraeducator means the library program shoulders 70% of the “small” local cuts in each elementary school. This “small” local cut, to be clear, is the ONLY reduction of a staff member in this budget who has daily contact with students ALL DAY, EVERYDAY.

Today I taught 4 classes which brought in over 80 students. Over 200 books were returned by 9AM this morning. While I was teaching those 80 students, 75 other students entered the library independently without an adult:
EACH one of those students left with a book that my paraeducator:
suggested to the student, or
helped the student find,
No VOLUNTEER or clerical worker could help these students!

For many students at Wildwood our library is the ONLY library they EVER visit. From the highest flyers to the non-reader, students WANT to come to the library. It is the great equalizer, it serves every student in our community regardless of class, race, or ability.

We have been informed that this $500,000 shortfall is a direct result of enrollment in charter schools. What do charter schools lack? Libraries. This cut will limit student’s access to their only library and the one place in the school that really sets us apart from charter schools.

Thank you for your continuing support,
Susan Wells
Wildwood Librarian and parent

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