Volunteers sought after Ypsilanti Public Schools cuts leave 1 librarian to oversee 5 schools
The Ypsilanti Public Schools district has cut back to one librarian to oversee five schools, and a local nonprofit organization is in the process of trying to gather volunteers to preserve the services.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
826michigan, an Ann Arbor based writing and tutoring organization, is seeking between two and four volunteers in Ypsilanti. The group has been informing people about the change, which occurred this year, said 826michigan Program Director Amy Sumerton.
The five schools are Estabrook Elementary, Perry Child Development Center, Erickson Elementary, Ypsilanti Middle School and Adams STEM Academy.
Ypsi schools Superintendent Dedrick Martin told AnnArbor.com he couldn't confirm whether the cuts were made and how many jobs were possibly impacted. More details about the circumstance were not immediately available from the district.
"I can't confirm," Martin said. "We made staffing cuts month ago. If it’s the positions I'm thinking of, they were cut in 2009... I think there was an additional cut recently. It's hard to say."
Sumerton said the district has seen dramatic cuts over the past few years.
"There have been repercussions in all of the Ypsi schools," she said. "Student numbers in each class are at an all-time high, and many support staff — including librarians, teacher consultants, and those in the arts department — were pink-slipped at the end of last year."
Volunteer Maggie Gibbons informed 826michigan of the cuts and "got the ball rolling" on seeking out volunteers.
"The principal at Adams STEM Academy, Dr. Connie Thompson, recruited me and others to help out at the school library so students could check books out," Gibbons said. "I believe that 90 percent of Adams students are at or below the poverty level. These are the children who need libraries the most."
When she heard other YPS libraries needed help, Gibbons said she asked Sumerton if the organization could find more volunteers.
"I think 826michigan volunteers are right for the job because they tend to swoon over books and love the idea of connecting kids with books they will love," Gibbons said. "Ypsi parents and other volunteers are also being recruited, so it is a community effort."
Sumerton said it's important that these services be maintained and that the cuts impact each student at each school differently.
"Reading is such a personal experience, and young people do it for any number of reasons — to educate themselves, to lose themselves, to experience places they've never been, to research projects, to imagine worlds that don't exist outside of books, to learn about the past, and beyond," Sumerton said. "The effects are an individualized permutation for each young person at each of these schools."
Sumerton said the remaining librarian has offered to help train anyone who is willing to help. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
Contact 826michigan at (734) 761-3463 or sign up through their website.