Seattle school librarians head to Olympia in an attempt to stave off cuts | KNKX

Seattle school librarians head to Olympia in an attempt to stave off cuts

Apr 2, 2019

Librarians from Seattle Public Schools are gathering in Olympia on Tuesday to ask state lawmakers to allow the school district to raise more money in local levies and stave off planned reductions.

The school district is planning to reduce some librarians to part time. The reductions are one part of $39.7 million in budget cuts the district is making for the 2019-20 school year.

District officials say the cuts are a result of the new school-funding formula lawmakers approved in 2017.

Part of the "McCleary Fix," named for the long-running school-funding lawsuit, provided more state funding for public education. But it limited the amount districts can raise through local levies.

"Lives have already been disrupted," said Jeff Treistman, a librarian at Denny International Middle School in West Seattle.

"But we could still reverse it pretty easily," he said. "It's just a matter of adjusting that levy lid."

Treistman is one of dozens of school librarians from Seattle asking lawmakers to address the levy-lid issue. He says they're also asking for long-term revenue solutions, such as a capital gains tax or even an income tax.

Democrats in both legislative chambers and the governor have proposed capital gains taxes. But as budget negotiations continue this month, school funding and the local-levy question will likely remain sticking points.

Northgate Elementary School librarian Kate Eads is attending the event in Olympia. In addition to meeting with lawmakers, the librarians also plan to hold a rally and a "read-in" at the Capitol.

Eads defends the importance of school libraries and librarians, noting that the libraries are generally closed when the librarians aren't at school. She said libraries can be a safe space for students.

"So there is a logistics problem happening here," Eads said. "Where do you put high schoolers when the library is closed? How do they research? How do they look up anything? How do they collaborate with someone else in the building to find out what they need?"