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Posted on Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 5:56 a.m.

Volunteers sought after Ypsilanti Public Schools cuts leave 1 librarian to oversee 5 schools

By Katrease Stafford

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.


Adams STEM Elementary is one of the five schools impacted by the cuts.

Tom Perkins | For

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 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.

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.



Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

The librarian needs to ask the supervisor or manager how they expect the job to be covered adequately. And, the answer or directions must make sense. If the bosses cannot give an answer or adequate direction, then they need to advise what the librarian can do to cover the job. The bosses own this. The superintendent owns this. Maybe the superintendent can provide details on how the job is to be covered. Criminal!


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

This is why YPS and WR need to consolidate. So things like this won't happen. This would be a great job for seniors looking for something to do. I know a few who volunteer for everything. I would if I had the time. I spend enough time in one.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

I know a lot of seniors who do a lot of volunteer work just to get out of the house for a few hours. My mother is one of them. So don't knock it until you try it. Besides there is nothing wrong with volunteering for the community. Unless you are one of the ones who don't do nothing for free.

greg, too

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

Why is every solution to hire seniors? You would need to hire seniors with library degrees, who can pass a background check, and who have library and education certifications. If you can find those "seniors," then hire em. I wish I lived in the world where you could just throw an old person in a position usually staffed by a qualified professional and all would be good. And who says retired people want to volunteer at a library? They've worked their entire lives, why would they just want to do this for free?

Andrew Jason Clock

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Well, we should just start another charter school instead of fixing the problems with public education. I'm sure giving private companies tax money will solve everything and raise education standards. Oh, wait, what's that? Charter schools show no better academic results even though they pick and choose students, and drain resources from public schools, causing their standards and safety to go down. And schools of choice provide no safety net for kid who's parents don't care about education (and thus aren't making any choices) Huh. Maybe we should have just fixed public schools in the first place, huh?


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

Remember to thank your legislators at the polls for the school funding mess.

Tom Bower

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

Volunteers have to be vetted -- Michigan school law. I can't speak to the situation involving the elementary schools, but as a Michigan professionally licensed 6-12 educator [endorsed to teach English Language Arts and Social Studies as well as being a K-12 administration licensee] volunteering every day (all day) in my wife's Ypsilanti Middle School classroom during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years I do know the librarian at Ypsilanti Middle School worked half-time at that school and half-time at Ypsilanti High School. So what is being reported as it concerns Ypsilanti Middle School is nothing new. The librarian did an outstanding job. Likewise, all staff, instructors, building administrators, and support staff I observed gave their all, day in and day out, to educate and help every student at Ypsilanti Middle School. Bashing the people on the front lines of education is ill informed, non-productive and needs to stop.

Dog Guy

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

The five new volunteer school librarians are Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and Netscape . . . all members of the Com family of media specialists. I wonder what universities did with obsolescent sliderule professors when calculators became available. Hey, kid, let me show you how to rebuild a Quadrajet carburetor.


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

There is a link between school media specialists/librarians and student academic success: Volunteers may be able to help students check out books, but can't fill the important educational role that media specialists/librarians play in insuring that students become critical information seekers and users.

Gretchen Ridenour

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Please forgive me, but I don't think anyone is claiming that volunteers are equal substitutes for the educated professionals, but they certainly can contribute to the benefit of the students. If a volunteer can help keep the library open for student use, even if the professional librarian is not on campus that day, isn't that better than having the library closed?


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

They can if they can sub for a teacher. Anyone over 90 credit hours of college education can be an educational specialist. I did do some library work and can fill in this position. Maybe when I am retired I know what I can do. I do know some looking for volunteer work.


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

Grrrr, why can't links be posted accurately in the comments?


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

CJ Falsetta

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

In response to Y-TownMom regarding YPS school nurses . . . I am a retired school nurse from YPS and when I was employed all the school nurses at that time had BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degrees, 2 of us had Master's degrees in Education. Nurses, regardlerss of their field, must complete 27 hours of Continuing Education every 2 years in order to keep their license active - something I don't believe teachers are required to do. So please don't make the statement that school nurses don't have the education that teachers do.

Gretchen Ridenour

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

This article is about volunteering in the school libraries to help provide a service to our students that they so desperately need. I'm not sure how a nurse's educational level entered this conversation, but I am personally offended. Any willing and able adult who can pass a background check and be fingerprinted and wants to volunteer should be considered. Again, this is about our students and their futures. Thanks to all of the adults who are willing to make a difference in their lives.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

@Y-TownMom - as a teacher myself, I'd like to clarify that teachers do not have to earn a master's degree. They do need to take a certain number of credits as part of a planned program - usually a master's degree, it's true - and then take continuing classes throughout their careers. And the salary rate is higher with a master's degree. But you don't actually have to earn the degree in order to continue being certified.


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 11:02 p.m.

Teachers *must* earn a master's degree to keep their certificates and therefore, their jobs.. They can get hired in with a bachelor's degree, but If they don't earn a master's degree within a certain time frame, they lose their certification. When they do earn a master's degree, they must then earn specific continuing education in order to continue to stay current. Do nurses lose certification and employment if they don't earn master's degrees? Regardless, I think we can agree that you understood my intention to communicate that it is as ridiculous to suggest that a teacher be replaced with a volunteer as it is to suggest that a nurse be replaced with a volunteer.


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

100% of the blame for the dramatic de-funding of our MI schools lies with Snyder and the current legislature in Lansing. Look carefully at the voting records of your legislators before voting on Nov. 6.


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 11:56 a.m.

I can confirm that what this article says is true as myself and another parent-volunteer help run the library at Erickson Elementary in Ypsi. This article is correct, there is only 1 librarian for the whole district and she has to go to a different school every day of the week so without volunteers the library would be closed to the kids. Lynn Schwab is the librarian and she does the best she can but she is only 1 person for hte whole district. Right now at Erickson we are looking for more volunteers to help run the library so if anyone reading this wants to help out contact Erickson PAB president Tamara Larson or Erickson principal Kelly Powers. Yes, you must pass a background check or you will not be left alone with the children. This can be done through DHS central clearing over on Center Street (It might be on Towner St, I don't accurately remember.) These budget cuts are destroying a real education for our kids. We play politics with education money and hold our kids education hostage as if this will have no effect on them. We teach Science and Math to "catch up" to other nations yet we ignore Reading, History, and English as if they didn't matter. Science and Math are great but if you know nothing of the world around you and only read books the school assigns as work you will grow up knowing very little of actual value. There is more to education than producing workers who can add and subtract but can't tell you that Africa is actually a continent and not a country. At least I believe there is and I hope others out there do too. Please come help us help the kids.

Gretchen Ridenour

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

Amen! And thanks to those who are volunteering. Your efferts to help provide the best education possible for our students is exemplary.


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 11:49 a.m.

The previous superintendent and his double dipping administration put YPS 10 million dollars in the red and left the teachers holding the bag for their criminality. Do I need to name names? Where is's story on that. These people need to be on I-94 westbound, turn right at Cooper St. in Jackson.The real BIG HOUSE is straight ahead. That is where these people need to be in their retirement!


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

Let's just hire a few more doctors as well to fill in the lack of internists needed for the aging population. If you've had a few science classes, just apply and we will hire you! And while we are at it, let's fill all the needed positions with unqualified people - high tech employees, clergy, surgeons, anesthesiologists, lawyers, police and fire personnel, builders and realtors, and of course day care workers who work for pennies but take care of our kids. Shame on the Ypsilanti Public Schools, and shame on Dedrick Martin.


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

I wonder why the superintendent does not know details of what is happening in his school system.

greg, too

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

I would imagine he would have had to sign on off on any firings or layoffs, so it really does give you a lot of clarity on the failings of the school district when he cannot even report on what is going on in his schools. Hopefully this will be addressed if the consolidation goes through.


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 10:42 a.m.

This seems like an issue that the union will pursue. It simply won't do to lay off teachers and then call for volunteers to take the position of certified, professional teachers who are required by the state to have master's degrees in order to remain employed. Further, to say that the schools would take "anyone who's willing" must be hyperbole. Even substitute teachers need to be fingerprinted and have their backgrounds checked. What's next, lay off more teachers and take volunteers to teach math class? Science? How about the school nurses? Nurses don't need even as much education as a teacher in order to retain a license. If the district wants librarians, they should hire certified teachers who specialize in library science.

tom swift jr.

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 10:21 a.m.

This, folks, is a sign of times to come. I've seen libraries eliminated/downsized at some of the 1:1 computer based districts (where each child receives a laptop), but their removal in what are still text based schools is disturbing. Martin stated, ""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." That is not the statement of an individual who has a strong understanding of what is happening in the district, additionally, these words come off as cavalier statement about hard working staff who have been laid off. My final comment is, will these volunteers be vetted by the district? School employees (even volunteers) should be run through the usual background check before being placed in positions where they deal with children. (not condemning 826michigan with this question, they are a fine organization and good for them for stepping up to solve a problem the district was ignoring.)