School Library Advocacy
Funding History and Its impact on School Library Media Centers
Lobbying and Advocating for School Libraries
Budget Process in Georgia
GLMA in Action
Summary:A group of three media specialists and three parents, accompanied by Michelle Crider, GLMA lobbyist, advocated for school library media funding to the support services subcommittee of the Education Finance Study Commission on August 13, 2012, Based on information collected at the request of the subcommittee on media specialist and support staff funding in other Southeastern states, the budget policy analyst made recommendations to the subcommittee on August 28, 2012. As recommendations for next year had to be budget neutral, for 2014, those staffing numbers were recommended at one library media specialist per 675 students (FTEs) for 190 days and one library media support staff member per 975 FTEs for 185 days. Their recommendations regarding Media Services were forwarded to the Commission as a whole which met yesterday.
Senator Fran Millar, who is co-chair of the Commission, asked Kelly Henson, Georgia Professional Standards Commission Executive Secretary, who chairs Subcommittee 2, to present to the entire Commission the need to address media center funding levels (for staffing and materials) when the economy rebounds. Mr. Henson agreed and noted that there were a couple of areas which the Subcommittee had addressed that had been noted as base funding and would need to be re-evaluated and Media Centers will be included with those. Since Georgia tends to be staffed under the levels of surrounding states, we asked for the goal to be the recognized or exemplary levels of media staffing for those states, rather than acceptable, when ratios are re-examined.
Discussion of media materials funding included subcommittee members asking for the definition of media materials and they seemed approving that it included digital products and technology as well as books and videos. The subcommittee recommended that funding for media materials be maintained at the current level, but that state funding of SIRS Issues Researcher and SIRS Discoverer through GALILEO be reinstated specifically. Mr. Henson also, interestingly, indicated that he would support increased funding of media materials if he believed the funds would be directed to library media centers. However, he noted, with the current flexibility, those funds would almost certainly be used to fill “budget gaps” elsewhere within institutions so he would not recommend FTE increases now. There was much discussion regarding online databases at both subcommittee meetings we attended, and subcommittee members were very concerned that GALILEO funding of SIRS databases had been eliminated. The subcommittee will recommend to the full commission that funding of those be specifically designated now.
There has been some press today regarding cuts in funding to school library media centers. The budget analyst set the staffing ratios for budget neutrality; in discussion at the August 28, 2012, meeting, it was felt that savings realized by not paying for training and experience credits when shifting from all media specialists to support staff would be lessened by the benefits costs for the support staff. I will call the policy analyst tomorrow to confirm how those numbers worked out.
Overall, the tone set by Senator Millar and Mr. Henson in recognizing the need to address the fact that this will be minimum funding for media centers which should be addressed as soon as the economy permits is positive for the future of our Georgia media centers. Please continue, however, to advocate within your schools and remember Andy Spinks’s call for our need for advocacy with Common Core.
(Thanks also to everyone who collected letters for this campaign as well. The appreciation that some of your teachers, parents, students and other educators have for many of you was impressive.)
Library Day at the Capitol 2012: K-12 Education Legislative Updates
HB 705, which amends Code Section 20-2-171 (65% rule) to designate “costs for transportation, instructional support including media centers, and guidance counselors;” under ‘Direct classroom expenditures.’ The bill was favorably reported out of the House Education Committee, but did not advance during the session.
HB 706 amended Chapter 2 of Title 20 by repealing and reserving various outdated sections, including Code Section 20-2-1183 relating to possession of electronic communication devices in school. It passed and was signed by the governor on April 19, 2012. This will impact instructional capabilities with Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) programs.
HB 192, which passed during the 2011 legislative session, established the State Education Finance Study Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the method of funding schools in Georgia. The 20-member Commission includes appointments by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House as well as the State School Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer from the Department of Education. Areas to be studied include core student funding, funding equity, state/local funding partnership and others. Interim recommendations were due September 30, 2011, and final recommendations are due September 30, 2012, with final proposed legislation due December 31, 2012.