Story by Quinn Manzo
Photo courtesy of Selena Baydaline
SPUSD cut the elementary school library programs and laid off the librarians in July after the coronavirus pandemic caused significant state budget cuts.
Before their termination, the librarians expected that they would continue connecting with students and parents as they did during fourth quarter distance learning, and had prepared online programs to engage students. Following the news of their firing, teachers, parents, students, and alumni wrote letters to the district on behalf of the librarians.
“It was a devastating blow, not only for us personally, but for our school communities,” librarians Selena Baydaline, Amy Blum, and Robin Becker said in a joint statement. “[We] were enthusiastic about the jobs we do, the extra [programs] we provide, and the care we take in choosing outstanding literature for our students to enjoy. Unfortunately, these efforts were not enough to persuade [SPUSD] to change course.”
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Karen Reed acknowledged that the librarians were laid off because of financial strains, but did not explain why that particular program was cut. P.E. teachers and computer technicians were also let go over the summer.
As a result of being fired, all three librarians no longer have their health insurance coverage. According to Baydaline, the cut also left significant emotional repercussions.
“As I let the news of my ‘termination’ sink in, I was overcome with a strong sense of shame and embarrassment,” Baydaline said. “I sat in the library… looking at the filled bookshelves and book displays, and the anguish crashed down again.”
Numerous parents have voiced their appreciation for the librarians’ work, specifically the “Popular Series Book Nook” and the Genre Book Challenge.
“[The librarians] were such a fundamental part of AV for my own child,” Arroyo Vista parent Sorrel Barnard said. “I appreciated seeing how [they] customized and integrated book selections and read-alouds with the other curriculum the students were learning.”
The elementary school librarians hope to be rehired once in-person instruction returns. Reed said that after SPUSD’s budget is restored, the district intends to reinstate the positions.