Teacher librarians work to save jobs

7:49 PM, Dec 16, 2011   |    comments
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"We said, 'Well, we need to do something.' We need to try to let the community know what we do and how important we are," McQueen, a teacher librarian at McLain Community High School in Lakewood, said.

The Jefferson County School District is considering $70 million in cuts over the next two years, which include the elimination of about 600 jobs. Part of the proposal includes the cut of 54 of 120 of the teacher librarians across Jeffco.

"Anytime budget cuts come about and we threaten losing something that's so valuable to kids, it's hard," McQueen said.

McQueen started a Facebook campaign called "Support School Libraries" to generate awareness of the need to keep teacher librarians employed. He says people often forget a key word in their title.

"We are teachers," McQueen said. "We're not librarians. We're teacher librarians and we are resources [that are] just as important as classroom teachers."

McQueen says they often work in the classrooms helping students with projects. At many schools across the district, the teacher librarians are also the technology experts of the schools, too.

"All that money that's invested in equipment, it just sits there [with teacher librarians gone]," McQueen said.

Zach Wink is a senior at McLain. Wink says McQueen is an invaluable asset at his school.

"Just pretty much any question that we have, we can go to Mr. McQueen for," Wink said. "He is a teacher to me. He's not just a librarian. I consider him one of my teachers."

The reality is, the district has few other areas to cut.

"I really hope this is temporary," Keri Hill, president of the Jeffco PTA council, said.

Hill says she's troubled by all the proposed cuts. She says that it's may be time for parents and other community members to help in ways they never have before.

"We in Jeffco PTA are really trying to look into getting more volunteers," Lee said. "We're looking at possibly getting more of the community involved."

The proposed cuts are still a work-in-progress. It will likely be changed several times before a final vote by the Jefferson County School Board in the spring.

That's why McQueen will keep fighting. He has to.

"To worry that that's in jeopardy and not know what exactly is going to come is stressful," McQueen said.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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