Arlington Hts. Greenbrier School parents fight to keep librarian

Parents of students at Greenbrier Elementary School showed up again to an Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 board meeting Thursday in order to voice complaints about a move that will have Library Media Center Director Jeff McHugh splitting his time between Greenbrier and Westgate elementary school.

Despite a contingent who spoke against the reduction in service that will see McHugh at Greenbrier three days a week and at Westgate the other two, Superintendent Sarah Jerome indicated that the decision was final barring a shift in enrollment numbers. Jerome said the board was not punishing Greenbrier, but rather leveling the staff at all of the district’s elementary schools.

Parents who spoke to the board said Greenbrier’s successes should prevent such a cut, pointing to the school’s blue-ribbon status and a 2011 Chicago Tribune ranking that placed the school 19th on a list of the top 50 elementary and middle schools in the Chicago area.

“You chose to take away from Greenbrier’s successful program, a program that should be considered the district standard, the district model,” said Erin Perkinson, the parent of a third-grader at Greenbrier and another child who graduated from the school. “I believe that all schools in our district should be provided with the same excellent LMC staff and resources that Greenbrier has to allow for optimal achievement.”

They also complained of a lack of discourse with the board. The move was made without input from the parents and Perkinson says it has been a struggle to get in contact with many individual board members. Board president David Page said it was their policy to have the president speak for the entirety of the board when issues were brought to them as a whole.

After the meeting, at which the board does not respond to community input, Jerome said the issue was one of providing equal opportunities at each district school.

“I know how much they adore their librarian, and I’m sure he’s a very worthy librarian — I don’t doubt that a bit,” Jerome said. “But his services are needed also to help equalize the distribution to the Westgate students, because they also deserve attention at the library.”

With McHugh at Greenbrier 60 percent of the time, the school has the equivalent of one full-time LMC director for every 538 students. This puts Greenbrier at the high end for District 25 elementary schools, with only Olive-Mary Stitt Elementary School having more students per librarian at one LMC director for every 553 students.

A full-time LMC director at Greenbrier would put its ratio at one LMC for 323 students, more than 100 students fewer than the current lowest, Patton Elementary, where the ratio is one to 435. Accounting for related staff — LMC teaching assistants, tech assistants and tech facilitators — Greenbrier sits in the middle of the pack relative to other district schools.

Thursday’s meeting also featured the presentation of the district’s 2012-13 budget for the first time. While the district will have an operating budget deficit of $359,468, it includes contingency funds for 11 additional staff members. Jerome said this figure could not be reduced to provide for both a full-time LMC director at Greenbrier and additional staffing at Westgate, as staff members often need to be added — particularly to assist special education children.

The parents promised to bring up the topic at future meetings, but Jerome said of the decision, “It’s not likely to change unless enrollments change.”

Arlington Hts. Greenbrier School must share librarian

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