Elsmere won't hire librarian

As a group of Elsmere Elementary parents say they are concerned about losing their full-time librarian, Bethlehem Central warns that more cutbacks are coming.

A group of residents protested a move by the school district to not replace the elementary school librarian when the current one has retired a move that district officials said is necessary as the school tries to rein in spending in the face of state aid cuts.

Harriet Jaffe, along with other Elsmere parents, pleaded with board of education members at the Wednesday, Jan. 21, meeting to name a replacement for Nancy Smith, who is retiring as the Elsmere Elementary librarian.

This is a mistake I believe," Jaffe said of not replacing Smith. "That individual attention is invaluable."

She argued that school librarians have been proven "in several studies nationwide" to improve the academic performance of students in grade school and beyond.

Superintendent Michael Tebbano said he sympathizes with the parents' concerns but said the financial crisis may be more serious than people realize. He asked district residents to be more understanding and to give the new approach a chance.

"We anticipated replacing her [Smith] position earlier, but in light of the current situation we decided we would revise our plan," Tebbano said. "This is going to be a big crisis we're trying to manage, and it's going to get worse. Realistically the $30,000 or so we save will not solve the fiscal crisis, but I have a fiduciary responsibility to this district."

Tebbano said none of the kids would lose their librarian because the district has rescheduled the remaining five elementary librarians to cover Elsmere Elementary. He added the district has enacted other measures, such as a hiring freeze and the unpopular decision to suspend school field trips, as well as cutting back on school aides and bus routes.

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