Friendly reminder that the city budget hearings begin this afternoon.
I have not read the entire budget, but there are parts of the Worcester Public Library budget that are…puzzling:
The City Manager believes that the community can strengthen student outcomes with an unprecedented partnership and collaboration between the Library and the Schools. How can Worcester leverage public & private resources to achieve equitable access to literature, information, and technology for students, teachers, families, and neighbors? The solution is to have a Worcester Public Library Children’s Branch Library in every Worcester elementary public school.
Four pilot sites will be identified, which will bring the partnership between public library and public schools to the next level. Both Schools and Public Library are partners for success. When school principals/teachers and public librarians join forces, kids win and communities thrive!
[from budget pp. 37-38, pdf pp. 84-85]
A new One Library branch was added to the organization chart adding 8 new positions with salaries totaling $292,260 to provide services to the Worcester Public Schools.
Pilot funding has been increased to fully support the One Library staff positions for services to
the Worcester Public Schools.
[from budget p. 39, pdf p. 86]
While I’m grateful that the City Manager is so fond of library services that he wants to share them with schools, why can’t we just fund school libraries appropriately?
This will be discussed at the budget hearing on June 4. I’m going to compile some questions, and I hope you share yours. Because even the last head librarian’s report didn’t mention this.
Some of my questions:
1) Which schools are part of the pilot program? Do they have space to accommodate this?
2) Who will pay for the non-staff costs (lighting, heat, books and other materials, shelving, cataloging, etc.) associated with the “children’s branch library” at the schools?
3) Can we ever get an accurate, transparent accounting of PILOT funding? That is, who is paying it, and where is it being spent?
4) Will this money be counted as WPL funding in our reporting to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners? If we are not funding a public library, it should not.
5) Have the schools been informed that there will be non-WPS employees working in the schools? What are the implications of that?
There is also mention in the budget about moving the library facilities staff under the city. (“The Library facilities management is being transferred to the new Division of Energy and Asset Management”, p. 85/38 of the budget)
I have not been able to attend as many library board meetings as I would like because of my obligations on the cemetery commission. I don’t know when the One City, One Library was discussed in detail, but I know it was not discussed at any school committee meetings.
I’ll post more as I hear it, but I welcome readers’ thoughts on this.