From Khris Brooks, former Times-Union Education reporter, on May 31, 2013:
Because the School Board wanted 7 percent [instead of the required 5 percent] of the budget in the reserve fund, Vitti said he didn’t have enough money for the district itself to completely fund all media specialists’ salary. At the middle and high schools, principals will be given a choice between using district money to pay the salary of a media specialist or a full-time teacher.
It is worth noting that Vitti increased the high school day from 7 periods to 8 (14% increase) without increasing the budget for teachers by 14%. This change mandated high school principals to convert the librarian position to a teaching position in an (often futile) attempt to comply with the class-size amendment.
The Times-Union did some research regarding the school library situation with the results posted on scribd. Vitti was hired during the 2012-13 school year. I have analyzed this document for the 2013-14 school year, Vitti’s first school year in Duval County. Some notes:
- K-8 schools were considered both elementary and middle schools
- 6-12 schools and Exceptional Student Centers were considered both middle and high schools (The kids who are able to read at the Exceptional Student Centers deserve access to books as much as anyone else).
If I made any mistakes, feel free to let me know and I’ll correct them. Here are the numbers I found:
- 74% of existing Duval County Secondary School libraries in 2012-13 (79% of high school libraries, 71% of middle school) were eliminated in 2013-14, Vitti’s first full year as Superintendent.
- 90% of Duval County high schools (26/29) had no full-time librarian in 2013-14.
- 86% of Duval County high schools (25/29) and 74% of middle schools had no librarian at all in 2013-14.
- 58% of Duval County elementary schools did not have a full-time librarian, but all had at least a part-time librarian.
- In 2013-14, Vitti’s funding decisions eliminated library positions from 28 secondary schools.
- While 90% of high schools didn’t have a single full-time librarian, Paxon (the college prep school) received funding for two librarians.
- Vitti cut the equivalent of 27.5 full-time positions at these middle and high schools where librarians were eliminated.
- Vitti blamed the School Board wanting to save an extra $62 million or so for cutting librarians.
- Estimated savings from killing our library system? 28 positions @ $65k salary and benefits = $1.8 million (roughly 1/10 of 1% of DCPS’s annual budget).
Why would the School Board demand, or even agree, to save an extra $62 million dollars they don’t need to save, when less than $2 million of that amount would have saved all of our middle and high school libraries?