Librarians honored, cut in same meeting

May 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Fremont Unified School District honored its librarians on Wednesday night. However, at that same meeting came word of some steep cuts to library staff throughout the district. It's another story of state budget woes.

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At American High School in Fremont, Joella Thompson and Kristine Gialdini keep the library door open 11 hours a day. They know pretty much every kid, every teacher's assignment, and every book.

For this kind of work, the Fremont Unified School District honored them and other librarians. The moment might have been sweet, had they not been so bitter.

"It almost feels like a slap in the face, even though they're patting us on the back," says Thompson.

Because later, the same board that honored those librarians, also had to approve cutting their jobs by half.

"Irony is the perfect word for it. The fact that you're going to say, 'You are necessary people and look what you do for our schools, and by the way, we are cutting your jobs by 50 percent,'" says Gialdini.

The Fremont Unified School District has agonized over these cuts for months. They include not only librarians, but also counselors, and new teachers. It's Fremont's version of the state's budget woes.

"There is no easy solution. No easy solution, we try to have as collaborate of an effort, try to be as compassionate as possible and look for every dollar. We've been as transparent as we could possibly be," says Fremont school board president Larry Sweeney.

"I wish everybody could stay," said board member Ivy Wu.

But even the tears from board members, cannot fill the well of a projected $21 million deficit. Fremont, and other districts, must prepare for the worst, and hope for better.

Now, in Fremont's schools one of two every two library staffers faces a pay cut or walking papers. At American High two good friends may not be working together.

"There will be one, shortly, or two halves," says Thompson.

There will also probably be a closed sign on the door several more hours a week.

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