Amy M. Harper: School board wrong on library funding

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I was very disappointed to read some of Pete Thaw's comments regarding the Kanawha County Public Library's loss of funding. To call the library's relationship to Kanawha County schools "parasitic" and to state that school funding was going toward library salaries proves his ignorance of the library's staffing needs and suggests he considered the legal argument as some sort of personal affront to him and the supposed education of our children.When have you seen your local public library overstaffed?Taking in consideration that the funding method was outdated, I would have loved to have seen Kanawha County board members work with the public library to reduce the funding over a specified time period, allowing the library to gradually replace the funding through other avenues. Both institutions supposedly work for the community's good, right?For a three-year period, I worked for the Kanawha County Public Library and represented them in our county schools as I visited Head Start classrooms for early literacy story times. As a staff member, it was my goal and purpose to serve our patrons and area schools with great resources and information, as well as to educate and equip young parents with early literacy skills.
Now, as a teacher, my purpose and goals haven't changed too much. I would assume most of our county schoolteachers would agree.How optimistic should we be that the Kanawha County Board of Education will wisely use this money? I'd love to hear from Pete Thaw about the projects he was going to put the money toward. Will this educational money be put toward replacing the free Kanawha County Public Library teacher bags and collections provided to area schools? Will this money be put toward the free public library summer reading program that helps children not regress educationally over the summer months? Will this money still provide children's educational yearlong free programming like author visits and art instruction? Will this money continue the free visits to Head Start classrooms from library staff trained in early literacy? Will this money continue to provide for integration of several county school libraries into the public library checkout and delivery system?These are "projects" already shown to have been beneficial to Kanawha County schools and are currently funded by the public library.Now isn't the time for unprofessional comments from Kanawha County school leadership. Aren't they supposed to be on the same team? Hopefully, Kanawha County citizens can try to encourage educators and librarians through verbal support, volunteer service, monetary donations and prayer. They all work to serve us through their jobs, right?Harper, of Kanawha County, is a teacher and Kanawha County Public Library patron.
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