Town Meeting schools report: TM appropriates extra funds to support school library paraprofessionals

Report on Town Meeting consideration of school budgets

The Town Meeting began debate tonight (Wed., May 4) on the elementary school budget. At the end of the evening, Town Meeting approved the Elementary School budget, and by a substantial majority appropriated an additional $30,000 to support the three full-time paraprofessionals in the elementary school libraries.

The three library paraprofessional positions had been cut entirely from the proposed budget earlier this year. Numerous parents, teachers, and community members came out in force this spring to express their support for the school libraries and the library paraprofessionals. After that, the positions were restored to 60%, although not fully restored.

At tonight’s meeting, Town Meeting member Nicola Usher introduced an article to add $30,000 to fully restore funding for the three library paraprofessionals. Numerous members, and two guests (Wildwood school librarian Susan Wells and a 9-year-old member of our community) spoke to the importance of the school libraries and the paraprofessionals in particular. Notably, not one member of the community spoke against the library paraprofessionals — a remarkable show of support from our Town.

After considerable discussion about other particulars about the elementary school budget, the budget was passed, with the additional $30,000 appropriation. IMPORTANT NOTE: The School Committee is not required to allocate the $30,000 to those positions — it was given the money in the budget, but can spend it in any way it chooses. However, Town Meeting member Vince O’Connor noted that over decades, no committee given such an additional allocation has elected to re-purpose the funds.

The advocacy of Wildwood’s librarian Susan Wells was critical in this effort, as is the strong support of our community for the mission of school libraries.

Next Monday, May 9, at 7 pm, the Town Meeting will take up the rest of the school budget requests.

— report by Laura Quilter, Wildwood parent & Town Meeting member

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