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BOARDWATCH: '...according to CPSs own budget figures, more than 200 library positions have been cut in the past two years....' Librarians ask CPS to join other large districts to assure librarians in every school

[Editor's Note: Substance's BOARDWATCH feature is publishing the remarks prepared and delivered by the speakers at the November 19, 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. The meeting saw more than 500 people present for the meeting, which according to our records made it the largest meeting in CPS history. The reasons? It was held in the community and began at 4:30, so people could be there. The meeting was held in the auditorium at Westinghouse High School. Only 60 people signed up to speak; More would have signed up but the Board censors the number as well as the speakers with which Board members disagree. The following material was prepared by Megan Cusick who provided it to Substance. George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance].

My name is Megan Cusick, Chair of "Chicago School Librarians." We are grateful for the opportunity to have met with Dr. Byrd Bennett and other stakeholders. Weve received resounding support but heard the same refrain: with student based budgeting, schools can not afford basic services.

Megan Cusick speaking to the November 19, 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Substance photo by David Vance.The numbers are troubling: according to CPSs own budget figures, more than 200 library positions have been cut in the past two years. Clearly, student based budgeting has not leveled the playing fieldit has further reduced resources at schools throughout the district.

We recognize that the upcoming year will present financial challenges for the district, so we bring the following recommendations to you:

1) Join with us in calling on the mayor to declare a TIF surplus so that the inadequately funded taxing bodiesincluding the libraries, the park districts, and CPS can receive the tax dollars invested by our city residents in programs and services for our city residents.

2) Eliminate the $40 million Office of Innovation and Incubation this year.

3) Save time and money -- tens of millions of dollars across the district -- by reducing the amount of testing.

4) Commit to a moratorium on any new schools until you can adequately fund existing schools.

5) Reduce employee health costs by eliminating the expensive and ineffective Wellness Plan, and simply treat your employees well.

6) Renegotiate the toxic swap deals.

7) Increase the base per pupil funding level so that all schools have librarians and provide the resources promised when you closed 50 schools.

8) Return existing librarians, including some who are Nationally Board Certifiedto their libraries.

Join other districts like Washington, DC that recognize the research supported impact that school librarians have on student outcomes. Please take action before irrevocable damage is done.

Thank you.



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