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Letter to the editor: Librarian not the position to cut

On Tuesday evening, Aug. 7, local residents attended the ACSU Board meeting to express their concerns about the Library-Media position at the Middlebury Union Middle School (MUMS).
The following were the points made:
The 11-14-year-old children who attend a middle school are trying to figure out their own interests and talents. They then learn about the larger world and try to find their place in it.
The school “librarian” has responsibilities beyond managing a room full of books and computers. The position involves working with classroom teachers to provide resources to enhance the subjects being taught. In line with this role, the current middle school building was designed so that the library was the “heart” of the facility.
The school district is currently integrating the International Baccalaureate program in all grades. This program has rigorous academic standards, which need to be supported by library services.
For the upcoming academic year, the middle school library media position was downgraded from a full-time position. Because a school library specialist is required for 300 students, this reduction did not meet the Vermont Education Quality Standards. The school applied to the state and was granted a waiver for this reduction. Then since there were no certified persons who were interested in filling the now part-time vacancy created by the retiring school library specialist, the district had to apply for an emergency waiver to fill the position with a non-certified employee.
I understand the need for cuts but there are other places that could have been cut. There is money for two full-time administrators for less than 300 students, for which only one position is required by the state. The middle school currently houses four teams of students. Since the school was opened, the student population has fallen enough that three teams would meet the need. If the fourth team of teachers was eliminated it would free up funds to support positions in danger of elimination — such as a certified library media position.
Please consider expressing your opinion to ACSU Board members or to Superintendent Peter Burrows.
Thank you.
Peggy Peabody
Retired MUMS teacher
East Middlebury

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