September 4, 2008

State OKs Lone Librarian for High School

By Katie Mulvaney

The School Department had sought a waiver from the requirement that the high school employ two librarians.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN -- The state Department of Education has granted the school district's request that it staff the high school library with only one librarian.

The School Department this spring sought a waiver from a state requirement that the high school staff two librarians after the school bus contract was costlier than expected due to fuel costs.

State regulations call for high schools with more than 1,000 students to have two librarians. South Kingstown High has fewer than 1,200 students and expects enrollment to fall below 1,000 within three years, according to Supt. Robert Hicks.

In making the case for the waiver, Hicks emphasized that a second position had remained unfilled after a librarian retired. Should the position be filled, the district would need to lay off that employee when enrollment drops below 1,000 in the coming years, he said.

The district indicated it was in the Caruolo process in seeking the waiver, meaning that its budget could not fulfill state requirements and mandates.

Education Commissioner Peter McWalters notified Hicks last week that the request was granted, incorporating the district's assurances that students' access to library services would be maintained.

Hicks said this week that the district might have had to drop a kindergarten class at West Kingston Elementary School or a first- or second-grade class at Wakefield Elementary if the waiver had not been granted.

"This is the least harmful," Hicks said of the options.

Schedules will need to be adjusted to allow students library access throughout the school day, and more attention will need to be paid to scheduling of the space, in general, Hicks said.

Carol Lavin, the current librarian, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The School Department had to make about $400,000 in cuts after its former bus contractor, DATTCO, notified officials that it wanted to withdraw from its contract because of rising fuel prices. That move forced the district to put the contract back out to bid.

In May the School Committee awarded the contract to First Student Inc. for $3.27 million in its first year, about $570,000 more than budgeted. DATTCO agreed to pay $100,000 to be released from its deal.

The two positions sacrificed were the second librarian at the high school -- at $75,000 a year -- and a $25,000 middle-school teaching assistant. A part-time English Language Learner position at the elementary school was also eliminated.

Other cuts included $50,000 from the account for supplies, such as textbooks and equipment. Most of the remaining sum came from budget items that came in lower than projected.


Kingstown [email protected] / (401) 277-7417

Originally published by Katie Mulvaney, Journal Staff Writer.

(c) 2008 Providence Journal. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.