Dear Principals: A Letter From the Washington Library Association

Craig Seasholes & Marianne Costello
Jun 21, 2018

Dear Principals,

This year’s Basic Education Funding Bill has given your school an unprecedented opportunity to update a significant capital resource: your library.  Substitute Senate Bill 6362designated for library materials in the Basic Education Funding bill created a $20/FTE line item for libraries.  

The Washington Library Association (WLA)  encourages you to advocate for this funding with your district and collaborate with your Teacher-Librarian to develop a plan for using these funds. This bill allocated MSOC funding for library materials as separate and unique from “Other Supplies.”  WLA asked legislators for this change in response to the need to develop culturally responsive materials and to equitably fund library programs in every school for every child.

Here is a screen shot from page 6 of SB 6362 that shows clearly the legislative intent of this funding change:


 6362 Session Law Text

Although we understand the $20 per FTE is not a mandate, it does show a clear legislative intent for school districts to ensure all students have access to quality library materials including books, online resources, computer science tools, makerspaces and materials that support adopted curriculum and initiatives.

In the 2015 Washington State Study of Library Information Technology WSSLIT study coordinated by OSPI and WLA, (http://bit.do/WSSLIT15) and in similar studies conducted  across the nation, there is a strong correlation between support for school library staffing, instruction and materials, and student success (http://bit.do/library-impact-studies). Schools with strong library programs show  higher student scores on statewide assessments, particularly in reading, and higher five year graduation rates.  Schools with strong library programs also have more equitable access to technology and research resources for students – something that is very important to ensuring ALL students have access to these tools and instruction on how to use them.

In the past decade, Washington State legislators have shown strong support for school libraries as evidenced by the inclusion of teacher-librarians in the prototype school staffing allocation (RCW 28A.300.173), inclusion of information technology literacy in the state’s core basic education goals (RCW 28A.150.210(3)), passage of SB 5294.  In 2015 (RCW 28A.320.240) changed the definition of a school library programs to school library information technology programs. Please note line item (e) which states:

(e) Create a culture of reading in the school community by developing a diverse, student-focused collection of materials that ensures all students can find something of quality to read and by facilitating school-wide reading initiatives along with providing individual support and guidance for students.

WLA urges you to work with your school librarian and library staff to ensure efficient and adequate planning for MSOC allocation dollars to be spent in the library. Our hope is that when the 2019 MSOC reports go to the school boards, districts will see clearly outlined how these dollars are improving student success. 

Equitable library funding allocation in SB 6362 will go a great distance to ensure that students have up-to-date and culturally responsive materials for independent reading. It also gives you an opportunity  to strengthen support for building-specific goals through targeted library collection development. 

Beginning Sept 2018, the $20/FTE allocations are coming to your district with library-specific spending recommendation. It is up to education leadership to ensure that legislative intent is met for the benefit of all students…through strong, smart school library budgets.  We urge you to advocate for your students and stand ready in support of strong school libraries for every student in Washington’s public schools.


Respectfully,

Washington Library Association 

WLA signatures

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