by Dorcas Hand
HISD administration is working to decide how to spend the ARP/ESSER funds. That’s the federal American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, more than $800 million coming directly to Houston ISD. During the week of May 17-21, a survey was open to the public on how that money should be spent. It is a three-year windfall, which means the district needs to spend it in ways that have staying power.
The survey, linked here in PDF, covered lots of potential topics - including Library Services. Yes, Library Services were directly listed. And SNL Speaks Out readers know that we consistently push the idea that school libraries improve student success at school, and we know that libraries do not exist on every HISD campus. How might libraries help in many areas the survey addresses? What are useful ways to invest this one time funding in HISD libraries?
Besides libraries, the survey includes
Now, let’s consider areas that library services can impact positively.
HISD currently has 62 libraries staffed with certified librarians. It is unclear what budget those librarians have for library materials, but all funding is campus based. Yes, there are another 79 libraries staffed by teachers - again with uncertain budgets. There are 274 HISD schools served by Library Services but only 141 (62+79) have library services staffed by trained personnel; 48 have clerks; 43 are vacant; and 41 have no library at all [All data from the same link]. Given that school libraries could positively impact almost all the categories addressed by the HISD Survey, HISD should invest in its libraries so that more campuses have the advantage of library services.
How might the district leverage this one time funding to phase in libraries for every student?
This blog is primarily authored by Debbie Hall and Dorcas Hand, but guest authors are welcome. If you have an idea to share, please contact our email below. Debbie is a retired HISD librarian and Library Services Specialist. Dorcas is a retired school librarian who remains active in AASL/ALA. Both support increased equity in school library access and support for all HISD students and campuses.