(KCPW News) State lawmakers debated how to fund books and other resources in public school libraries Thursday. Librarians said they’d like to see the state allocate money specifically for school libraries, rather than allow each district to divvy up the funds from a $31 million pool of money. Dr. Cheryl Smith, a former Granite School District Library Director, said when school districts have control over where that money goes, library resources decline.
“If the library media center, the intellectual center of the school is run by a person who has a high school education, they don’t have political clout among their peers on the faculty because they’re not peers,” said Smith. “So who will speak out at those schools to get monies for school library resources?”
Smith said only 7 school districts out of the 41 in Utah have professional librarians, who she said are the key to helping libraries survive.
Senator Howard Stephenson agreed that professional librarians are necessary in schools. But he said he worries that districts would spend the money on administrative salaries, instead.
“What we ought to do is say if you as a district are going to get your share of the $31 million, you have to prove that you are using teacher librarians to this standard that the state office of education ought to set. Sorry I don’t trust local school boards to do the right thing when they have the union breathing down their neck,” said Stephenson.
The discussion took place in the legislature’s Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
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