Declining enrolment is the driving factor in the reduction in library services at some schools in the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board.
Lesley MacDonald, labour relations co-ordinator for the AVRSB, recently responded to comments in a press release issued by the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union accusing the Valley board of “balancing their budgets on the backs of library staff and services.”
MacDonald explained the formula for calculating library staffing has remained unchanged since it was established in the 2012-2013 academic year when the school board was facing some “tough financial decisions” and schools experienced their first library staff cuts.
At that time, more than half of school library technician positions were eliminated in the board. Library technician work hours were cut from close to 200 hours per day to 96.
There were no further reductions made in the 2013-2014 budget, but projections for declining enrolment in 2014-2015 at Cambridge Elementary, Canning’s Glooscap Elementary, Windsor Elementary, Falmouth Elementary and Annapolis West Education Centre, soon to merge with Annapolis Royal Regional Academy, compelled the board to make further reductions.
“It will mean a total reduction of 4.5 hours per day for library technicians in the board,” or approximately 1.5 hours at the affected schools, explained MacDonald.
MacDonald refuted the NSGEU’s claim that “losing library technicians and libraries in schools hurts the overall quality of education our children receive.” She pointed out that library services have evolved dramatically due to the fact that more print and technology resources are now classroom-based.
MacDonald said the board’s staffing process for the coming school year is still underway and all existing staff members have been recalled.
“All positions still exist, but with changes to the librarian technician hours, some library staff may choose to make decisions,” she said, about their positions.