Libraries: an equity index

7:30 am

Neighborhood middle schools no library staff: 0
Of 30 neighborhood K8 schools, number with no library staff: 4
High schools with no library staff: 1 (Young Women’s Academy)
High schools with no certified media specialist (librarian): 3 (Marshall campus, Roosevelt campus, Young Women’s Academy)
Library staff at each of Cleveland, Grant, Lincoln High Schools: 3

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: Data Crunch, Equity, High Schools, K-8 Transistion, Libraries, Marshall High, Program cuts

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15 Responses

  1. Comment from clarification, please:

    Who pays for the librarians at Lincoln? Grant? Cleveland?

  2. Comment from clarification, please:

    Where did you get these numbers? Are you referring to cluster totals or each high school? It implies you are referring to individual high schools but the numbers do not match the information that I can find.

    Funding is terrible for all. Some schools have the ability to make up the gap, but we cannot get angry at people who help their own kids. Moreover, some of the funds the “middle and upper-class schools” raise are distributed throughout the district.

    We need a better overall tax base for equality and an end to transfers. The wealth in many neighborhoods is being transferred out to charters and non-neighborhood schools.

    This is the issue.

    Yes, my son just graduated from Lincoln. But, he began in the Lincoln Cluster when I was a single mother below the poverty line. I found most parents in this district to be supportive and generous. There can be no doubt than my child benefitted on their dime. The people I find more objectionable are those who move into districts with low-housing costs and flee the schools despite being perfectly able to give time and money to their neighborhood schools.

  3. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Library staff, like all other school staff except counselors and custodians, are paid for out of a principal’s FTE budget.

    The district does not require principals to provide a library for students at any level.

    The numbers cited above are per school, not per cluster. Library staff includes certified media specialists, library assistants, and text book clerks. Certified media specialists are teachers, and count as one FTE; assistants and clerks count as 1/2 FTE.

  4. Comment from Zarwen:

    Steve, I’m sorry, I am still not clear: are you saying there are 3 FTE at each of those high schools? Or three people who may count for as little as 1 FTE between them?

  5. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    3 people at Lincoln, 3 people at Cleveland and 3 people at Grant libraries.

    Each one has a certified media specialist, plus two classified employees (either library assistant or text book clerk or both). I don’t know the actual FTE budget for them; not sure which ones are full-time, half-time, quarter-time, etc.

  6. Comment from clarification, please:

    A question about pay–Have the principals been untruthful, then, when telling me that donated money covers certain positions, including teachers? Or do they take money allotted for counselors and hire teachers instead? Are they shuffling funds?

    What is a textbook clerk?

    Do the schools you do not comment upon have at least one media specialist/librarian? Aside from the two high schools lacking a librarian, then, is the general difference in support staff on average? Do students at the Young Women’s Academy have access to another campus library?

    This is sad situation and needs to be fixed.

  7. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Donated money can make up a portion of a principal’s FTE budget; this is true. When this happens, the money goes through the foundation, with 1/3 (after $10K) going to the Portland Schools Foundation equity fund (which is distributed through grants to other schools in $40K chunks, half what it costs to fund an FTE).

    Principals no longer have discretion over counselors, but they still have total discretion over the rest of their teaching and support staff (custodians notwithstanding).

    Text book clerks manage the distribution of text books to students.

    There are some other schools without library staff, e.g. Richmond Elementary and da Vinci Middle School.

    Young Women’s Academy students do not have access to a staffed library.

  8. Comment from SusanZP:


    I’m hoping that district staff steps into this discussion in the hopes of correcting and/or clarifying your posted information. Surely it can’t be accurate. Five neighborhood K8s without any staffing in their libraries. Really? Superintendent? Ruth, what happened?

    Roosevelt chose to stop funding a media specialist a few years ago, and last year had a single classified staff person to handle both the library and textbooks – has that changed?

    It would be helpful to see an accurate chart showing each PPS school’s (both neighborhood and special focus) staff and funding for its library, including whether that staff is a certified librarian (teacher) or classified library assistant/textbook clerk (clerical), or a mix of both, the FTE for each position and what funds are used (discretionary FTE, Foundation FTE, specially allocated FTE or Title I, if that’s possible).

    I’d also like to hear the district respond to reports that classified library assistants are now being asked to supervise classrooms that visit the library without a certified teacher present.


  9. Comment from Steve Buel:

    The library organization in PPS recently went to the superintendent laying out the poor library conditions in the schools. One supposed position was added in the administrative area to help organize and analyze the library situation. I am not sure if that person has been hired. Last I knew she (he) hadn’t been. It seems to me that it wouldn’t have been asking much to just fill-in the obvious holes, like someone to check out the books (duh, or do we want children in schools without libraries with books to read) and making sure we have a certified librarian in each of our high schools. (A Marshall H.S. administrator told me that libraries were not that important anymore with the internet and all.) If you are new to these types of problems, well, welcome to Portland Public Schools — the district of the upper middle class, by the upper middle class, and for the upper middle class.

  10. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Susan, you are correct, Roosevelt also does not have a media specialist. I updated the post. There may be other places I’ve gotten something wrong; I welcome corrections.

    I wish this were inaccurate, but my understanding is that the following schools have no library staff whatsoever:

    • Astor K8
    • Creston K8
    • da Vinci MS
    • Hayhurst K8
    • Young Women’s Academy 6-12
    • Richmond PK5
    • Sunnyside K8
    • Winterhaven K8

    (See my latest post about K8s for more on the failure to provide minimally functional libraries for our K8 schools, a critical need that was identified last spring.)

    A half-time library assistant is budgeted at 1/4 FTE. So to put one in each of the seven schools with no library staff would cost 1.75 FTE district-wide, or about $140,000 total (not per school).

    Steve Buel, I’m with you. The school board didn’t need to hire somebody to tell them all students need access to working libraries. I’ve been telling them this for free for a while now. That one FTE is more than half what they need to plug the holes in the seven schools listed above.

  11. Comment from Rita Moore:

    Just a quick correction to your otherwise thoroughly depressing stats: Winterhaven K8 now has a half-time library assistant, thanks to the principal doing some impressive gymnastics with slivers of FTE. This is the first time in at least 5 years (I’m guessing longer) that Winterhaven has had any library staff. Up to now, it’s been totally run by parent volunteers who have spent countless hours (and a lot of their own money)to provide the kids with what little library they have.

    I think it’s worth noting that Winterhaven has been a K8 for 12 years, so the curricular deficits — of which there are many — are not a result of the reconfiguration fiasco, but symptomatic of a flaw in the model as implemented in PPS.

    Oh, by the way, the only foreign language that the middle school kids have access to is a one hour elective twice a week by a non-certified teacher hired with Run for the Arts funds. But don’t get me started on the appalling state of foreign language study in PPS…

  12. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Thanks, Rita, I’ve corrected the post to reflect the new library staffing at Winterhaven. That’s really great news for the students there.

    I’m not certain, but I think Sunnyside went K8 before the district-wide conversion, too.

  13. Comment from Lakeitha:

    To: clarification, please:
    please note that while“ some of the funds the “middle and upper-class schools” raise are distributed throughout the district.” These funds cannot be used by the lower income schools to pay for staff.

  14. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Thanks for pointing that out, Lakeitha. Even if the funds could be used for hiring teachers, the maximum grant, in each of the two equity fund grant programs, is $40K. That’s half what an FTE costs.

    As many have pointed out, it’s as if the Portland Schools Foundation and its “equity fund” were set up to prevent equity.

    They give cover to wealthy families to support students in “their” schools with extra teaching staff and programming (while poor schools get to compete for grants to fund seminars and trainings targeting the “achievement gap”). This also gives political cover to the school board which perpetuates gross inequities of opportunity in wealthy neighborhoods vs. poor ones.

  15. Comment from Steve Buel:

    One example is the increased limits set by the Portland Schools Foundation (through the school board) from 5,000 to $10,000 that a school can keep. Under the previous years stats this moved over $50,000 from the poorest half of schools to the upper half of schools. When I pointed this out to David Wynde nothing was done about changing it. When I pointed it out to The School Foundation nothing was done about changing it. Good proof of where the school board and foundation really are.

    You would think PSF would step in to help the libraries in poorer schools. When I asked them to take some leadership here they said their director said they would consider some funding help. So far, months later — you guessed it, ZIP. Or to paraphrase the famous Doonesbury cartoon –ZIP, ZIP, ZIP!!!!!