Ellensburg speaks up against librarian cuts

Wayne Gray, Staff Reporter

Certified librarians in the Ellensburg School District have been reduced due to budget cuts. Employees are speaking out, even if it means someone else does the talking.

The decision to reduce library staff was due to budget concerns. This decision has been a point of criticism from the public and students alike.

Mary Gordon, a former teacher, is leading the effort to oppose the district’s decision. She leads a group of at least 85 community members and district employees, in an effort to convince the district to reverse their decision concerning librarians. 

“We’re just trying to do everything we can to save our librarians in the Ellensburg school district,” Gordon said.

Gordon also stated that there has been little communication from the school board in response to the community’s concerns. 

“You receive a form letter, everyone receives the same form letter, so there really is no conversation,” Gordon said. “We’ve resorted to going and speaking at the board meetings.”

Gordon said that communication issues with the school district have been so pervasive that she maintains a private email list so that district employees have a safe outlet for their concerns. 

“There are people, who are teachers, who joined my email group, who created entirely new email addresses on Gmail so they could join,” Gordon said. “People don’t do that who feel comfortable speaking out.”

At the school board meeting on April 6, when the floor was open to public comment, some speakers claimed to be acting as proxies, speaking on behalf of district employees.

One speaker, Barb Goll, read from a letter written by an anonymous district employee that said, “I am writing you anonymously through a third party willing to share my thoughts … because there is a culture of fear spreading within Ellensburg school district.”

After 30 minutes of public comments, most of which were statements read from letters written by anonymous district employees, the board closed the floor to public comment. 

Meanwhile, the district is also moving to convert traditional school libraries to technology centers. 

“Every student is provided a Chromebook,” Layla Breckon, an Ellensburg High School senior, said. “I can’t understand how adding a technology center, instead of a traditional library, is a benefit when we already have technology at our fingertips.”

While the school district claims that these changes may be temporary, with a possible reinstatement of the reduced librarian positions in the future as district finances improve, some are not so optimistic. 

When asked about the district’s move, Gordon said these types of changes are typically permanent. 

“I really don’t think we’re going to get librarians back,” Gordon said.