SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Students in San Jose’s Alum Rock School District will no longer have librarians come next school year. The district is cutting all library positions as it tries to reduce a $14 million budget deficit. The district said declining enrollment is to blame.
Officials said the district is losing 400 to 500 students a year. Parents and students call the budget cuts a big loss to their school communities.
“She’s always making reading special to us and she makes us feel welcomed there,” said 10-year-old John Paul Garza.
Fifth grader John Paul Garza has nothing but good things to say about his school librarian. He said she’s a member of his school community he trusts and credits part of his reading success.
“Getting the education right now because she prepares books for us and everything to get our grades up,” said Garza.
However, next fall his librarian won't be at his school. The Alum Rock Union Elementary School District is eliminating more than 30 positions including 14 librarians. Hours for community liaison positions will be reduced. They build bridges with schools and communities. The district said it needs to cut $14 million.
“We need to take a very serious look at our budget and balance the budget,” said Alum Rock School Board Member Andres Quintero. “If we don’t, Sacramento will balance it for us and they'll take control.”
Quintero said enrollment is dropping primarily due to charter schools.
“Unfortunately, the unbridled growth of charters has had an impact,” said Quintero. “We are seeing the impact. The County Office of Education at one point in time gave blanket license for up to 25 schools in one shot.”
The district is looking at the state legislature to limit the number of charter schools. The district said it has saved some music and sports programs.
“Morale here has been pretty low because of the number of budget cuts and what they are cutting out of our district,” said Teacher Barbara Heally.
Teachers said it's vital to keep libraries staffed in a district where reading scores are low and for nearly half of the students English is a second language. The district said libraries will remain open.
“Who’s going to man it?” said Heally. “Who’s going to check out the books for the students? I don't know how to do that and it shouldn't be my job to do that.”
At least one parent KTVU spoke to is now considering pulling her children out of the district.
“There’s just a lot of things the school does not have that the kids need,” said Parent Vera Avila.
Officials said until the district gets more funding, it won't be able to bring librarians back. They have been offered other unfilled positions in the district.