I work as an elementary library media specialist at a Title I school located in the second largest school district in the state. The district has 100,000+ students. Approximately 1100 of those PK-5 munchkins attend my school. I also serve two very different schools within the same building. Yes, this can be a logistical feat sometimes – and a nightmare on other occasions – but we’ll leave it at that.
Faced with a 65 million dollar budget deficit, the district’s senior management team has proposed a number of cuts. Among these is cutting the library media parapros (my helper) back to part-time. Much discussion has gone back and forth on the district’s library media list-serv. For the affected parapos, the potential impact is huge because this change would also bring a loss of health insurance benefits in addition to a 50% pay cut. Say what you will about civil servants; however, most of the parapros at my school are married to small business owners. Their meager paychecks keep the family fed, lights on and provide medical insurance for their families. That’s about it.
If my parapro is cut to half-time, this means half of my work week is now going to be spent covering circulation duties – you know supervising the library, helping students find books, checking out books and reshelving. The other part will be spent handling the back office duties that still have to get done – library management, ordering, weeding, updating records, repairing books, analyzing the collection to see where we need more items, evaluating websites for teachers, collaborating on resources for projects, providing technology support and teaching. Did I mention teaching????? Yes, this is the one responsibility that often gets pushed aside. I don’t like it, but I’m only one person and there are so many hours in the day.
Some of my coworkers have talked about how they plan to hustle to keep up the same level of library services…staying later…taking work home…working during the summers. Blame it on our strong customer service orientation psyche. We simply want to make our customers happy and will often go to great lengths to do so.
Enough is enough. As much as I enjoy my work, I already do the job of two people (librarian and technology coordinator) and now I’m expected to pick up the slack of a 1/2 time position as well? I don’t even get paid the full salary to do the job I was contracted to do (thanks to salary cuts, wage freezes and furlough days). I have to agree with my husband on this one. The job they have available is not the same job I had five years ago. I may not like it, but that is the job available. I can either accept it or resign. Simple as that. And man, do I hate to admit it when he’s right.