School librarians demonstrate at the Capitol to protest funding cuts

  • Tuesday, April 9, 2019 1:35pm
  • News

By Emma Epperly

WNPA Olympia News Bureau

Seattle Public School librarians gathered on the steps of the Capitol building Tuesday to protest the lack of funding for schools and their libraries.

Kate Eads is a Seattle Education Association union representative who helped organize the event.

“Our jobs are getting cut in Seattle and our district officials say, ‘Well, it’s because the state doesn’t provide enough money. Go to the state.’ So, we’re here,” Eads said.

The librarians are hoping the state will provide additional funding for libraries in Seattle and across the state; they say funding has been cut because of lowered amounts districts can seek in voter-approved levies.

“When the state capped the levies and said, ‘too bad Seattle you don’t get any more,’ it left us out of jobs, literally,” Eads said. “So, we have to close our libraries because our district says we can’t find the money, now that there’s no levies.”

The consequences to cutting library funding is frequently library days, meaning a school library is open half-days.

“If you cut out library days, you’re cutting out access to the obvious, is checking out, but also the safe space in your school,” said Eads.

Lawmakers considered raising school levy caps earlier this session from $1.50 to $2.50 with Senate Bill 5313; however, the bill has stalled in the Ways and Means Committee. A change in levy rates would mean a change in the amount of funding a school gets in Local Effort Assistance, or levy equalization, which is state funding that ensures schools have a certain dollar amount per student.

The McCleary court decision in 2012 required the Legislature to fully fund “basic education.”

Funding for a full-time library is not considered part of basic education. The Legislature had been found in contempt of court until 2018, when it adopted a plan to put billions of dollars toward K-12 education in coming years.

As a part of its McCleary solution, which raised the state portion of property tax by about 94 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, the Legislature reduced the school levy cap to its current rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.

In February 2019, Seattle voters approved levies totalling $1.95. However, Seattle Public Schools can only collect $1.50 due to the levy cap. The Seattle Public Schools asked for the higher amount in hopes that the legislature would change the cap.

Librarian Gail Myles, says the McCleary fix has made funding “equal but not equitable” for Seattle and many other districts.

The district will only pay for a half-time librarian in middle and high schools next year, leaving it up to individual schools and PTAs to fund libraries, said Myles and fellow librarian Paula Wittmann.

“We are considered and extra, even though we shouldn’t be,” said Wittmann. “…They say with the McCleary it’s fixed but it’s still not amply funded and that’s the paramount duty of the state. These kids are the future and it’s counting on them.”

More in News

New law erases or extends statute of limitations for various sex crimes

By Emma Epperly WNPA Olympia News Bureau There will be no statute… Continue reading

Hacker blackmails resident | Island Scanner

The following items were selected from reports made to the Island County… Continue reading

Mock car crash, trial planned at school

South Whidbey High school students, in collaboration with South Whidbey Fire/EMT, the… Continue reading

South Whidbey students speak up about schools during public meeting

‘What steps are you going to take right now to protect our education?’

COER considering Growler lawsuit

Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, or COER, is considering litigation against the U.S.… Continue reading

Photos by Maria Matson/ Whidbey News Group.
                                Mark Stewart’s tractor has come in handy for Boots to Roots. He’s tilled the soil twice so far, and will do so one more time.
Growing a new program at Greenbank Farm

Veterans become farmers in Boots to Roots

Body identified as suspect in Camano Island killing

By Zachariah Bryan zbryan@heraldnet.com Authorities have used lab results to confirm a… Continue reading

Callison to seek second term as Langley mayor

Seats on city council and school board will be up for grabs this year

Taming Bigfoot

Challenge kicks off Earth Day efforts on Whidbey Island

Most Read