State panel OKs Yukon library waiver

A request from the Yukon School District that will allow the district to operate with fewer than required library staff was approved Thursday by the State Board of Education.

Yukon’s school board approved the request earlier this month on a 4-1 vote.

Board member Leonard Wells, whose wife is a retired school librarian, opposed the move, saying that it is important to have certified librarians on staff at both the middle school and high school levels.

“The state has standards. There is a requirement to have a librarian for so many students. As long as the standards are there, we should be following it,” he said.

He also said that he does understand the waiver allows the district to save money.

“I understand the cost savings When we are in a crunch for money, the library is always the first to get hit when there are cutbacks,” Wells said.

Yukon originally made its request for the library waiver in the 2015-16 school year, a period during which the state education department suffered severe financial cuts.

Thursday, Yukon was one of four school districts to make the request for the next school year.

The waiver allows the district to operate with a single librarian and an aide at both the middle school and the high school.

State law requires that each of those schools have two librarians based on the schools’ student population.

In its request, the district said because the high school’s librarian is a veteran, and because the library is mainly a self-serve system, the district is able to continue to be successful with only one librarian and an aide.

The same also is said for the middle school library.

“In addition to the services our high school librarian and library aide provide, we have an extensive program for volunteers,” the district’s application states.

The financial impact is significant, saving the district about $88,000 per year.

“All of the money saved was and is being reallocated to offset the large class sizes we are facing this year,” the application states.

According to the application, the district continues to monitor how well the system is working.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jason Brunk said the district was able to shift one of its librarians to Surrey Hills Elementary to fill a vacancy, while another librarian was moved to a classroom at the middle school.

“We are still providing effective services,” Brunk said.

He also pointed out that while finances have improved within the district, the administration of focused on reducing classroom size.

“It’s an ongoing battle,” Brunk said.

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