Wendy West has her work cut out of her in the next month.
Since the Kootenay Lake School District cut her position as district librarian, she’s been tasked with closing down the curriculum resource centre where she’s worked for 17 years. That means sorting and packing more than 20,000 learning materials that used to be shared between schools and, in many cases, picking one school to take care of them.
“In theory the schools can still co-ordinate between themselves and share the materials, but somebody’s going to need to find the time to do that,” West explained.
Some of the most popular materials, such as kits for science and Kindergarten that include everything needed to teach a unit in one box, will stay in storage in the basement of Central Education Centre for teachers to share.
“I give it a year. By then the materials will be a mess, and who will the district hire to clean it up? It won’t be me,” said West.
Her librarian position was funded as a 0.6 full-time equivalent, or 24 hours per week, but like many teachers West put in a lot of overtime, often working 60 hour weeks to make sure teachers got the resources and support they needed.
She helped teachers from Slocan to Kaslo find books or props to teach a special unit and helped prepare them when they were just starting out teaching a new grade.
At a recent school board meeting, several teachers said West had acted as a mentor to them and spoke against closing the resource centre.
Trafalgar middle school teacher Ann McDonnell said, even as a longtime teacher, she still uses the resource centre regularly.
“I have enough books in my classroom to fill a resource centre myself,” she joked. “I use the resource centre to keep my teaching fresh.”
Teacher-librarian Janene Stein at Redfish Elementary said her contract permits her merely two hours per week to dedicate to her library duties.
“How can I take on responsibility for resources in that time?” she asked the school district board of trustees, who offered no response to her question.
Slocan Valley Trustee Barbara Lindsey did bring a motion to the board asking them to keep the resource centre open, but without a seconder, the motion failed without further discussion.
The school district cut 19 full-time equivalent teaching positions for the upcoming school year. West was one of many affected.
Back at the resource centre, West is past the point of fighting to keep her job. She used her seniority to secure a new posting, teaching Kindergarten at Hume Elementary school starting in September.
From there she’ll watch and see how the district’s budget cuts unravel.
“School districts are being pressured into pushing through budgets that don’t make sense,” West said. “Cutting the resource centre at a time when teachers need support, with so many positions changing, it doesn’t add up.”