Third-graders at Fairview School in Dayton check out new books in May 2016, courtesy of the Read On program. JEREMY P. KELLEY/STAFF

Dayton schools reviving libraries after past job cuts

Students in Dayton Public Schools will have increased access to school libraries this year, after three years of spotty availability because the district eliminated several library media center jobs.

Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said the libraries at DPS’ three middle schools and six high schools will be open full time and be staffed by licensed library media specialists.

2015 STORY: DPS eliminates school library jobs

A big change will be at the district’s 17 elementary schools. Three years ago, DPS eliminated the positions of 10 library aides who split their time to serve all of the elementary schools. That led some teachers and volunteers to complain of inconsistent or nonexistent library media center access the past few years at many schools.

Lolli said each elementary school will have a paraprofessional, or aide, who spends part of the week staffing the library to work with classes and students, and the other part of the week supervising in-school suspension.

“Literacy is a major focus for the district,” Lolli said. “Without a media center, students miss the opportunity to develop a love of books and reading.”

RELATED: School board approves library branch at Belmont HS

In 2015, the state school board eliminated the “5 of 8” rule that required minimum combined staffing levels in art, music, gym, library, nursing, counseling and other fields. Those rules governed how many professionally licensed staff schools were required to have. Many districts, both rich and poor, have replaced some licensed librarians with part-time aides in recent years.

Dayton Public Schools has made recent efforts to boost offerings outside basic reading and math – hiring an academic coordinator for fine and performing arts, rebuilding a school music program with help from the Dayton Public Schools Foundation, and now strengthening libraries.

Lolli said Kathy Borneman, who was recently named senior academic coordinator of English language arts, will also oversee the district’s library media efforts.

2017 STORY: Dayton schools aim to revive music programs

“Media personnel will be reading stories to students and offering an opportunity for students to choose appropriately level reading materials to borrow,” Lolli said. “We are excited to have this extra resource available to our students again.”

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