x
Breaking News
More () »

Librarians: Layoffs Will Leave Hole in Scranton Education

SCRANTON — Layoffs announced Thursday in the Scranton School District hit the library hard. By next school year, there will be no more librarians in the d...

SCRANTON -- Layoffs announced Thursday in the Scranton School District hit the library hard. By next school year, there will be no more librarians in the district.

School district librarians say the layoffs will leave a hole in students' education.

We also caught up with Scranton School Board members and the district superintendent who voted to lay off librarians and a total of 51 teachers to help fill a hole in the district's budget.

The librarian we spoke to says she doesn't envy their position and that it's not an uncommon one. Librarians are often the first to go.

Scranton School Board members and administrators say the vote Thursday night to lay off 51 teachers was a necessary step to avoid a financial takeover by the state.

"If we don't make some of these decisions today for the long term, we will cede that control to that state and then there will be no options," said school board member Katie Gilmartin.

Gilmartin says there are still difficult decisions to make. The district is still looking to save close to $4 million before finalizing a budget by April 1.

Those 51 teachers started receiving furlough notices Friday. 40 maintenance and clerical workers will also lose their jobs.

"The sacrifices are not lost on me and I certainly feel for the people who are experiencing that today, but we are, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes as well," said Gilmartin.

When the layoffs take effect in September, Scranton schools will no longer have librarians.

Mary Garm has been a librarian for 30 years and is the administrator for the Lackawanna County Library system. She says, statewide, librarians are often first to lose their jobs.

"My heart goes out to the Scranton School Board," Garm said. "I know what a difficult situation that they're in and that's why I say, I think this is a bigger issue, and it relates to how we fund our schools. And librarians are, unfortunately, collateral damage here."

Librarians are not required by the state Department of Education code but, Garm says, are as essential to education now as they ever were.

"They teach some skills that kids might not get in other places, probably one of the most important today is they do teach kids how to distinguish reliable and trustworthy information from all the misinformation that is so easy to find today."

Scranton's superintendent says the teacher layoffs will save the district about $700,000 this year, but that number will grow because the layoffs don't take effect until next school year.

There are more than 700 teachers in the Scranton School District.