Cy-Fair ISD will cut more than half of librarian positions due to $138 million budget deficit

Rosie Nguyen Image
Tuesday, April 30, 2024
Cy-Fair ISD cutting half of librarian positions due to $138M deficit
Cy-Fair ISD librarians said they were blindsided when they were told library programs would be eliminated.

CYPRESS, Texas (KTRK) -- Parents in Cy-Fair ISD quickly organized over the weekend after learning that administrators will cut more than half of all librarian positions. This comes as administrators are tasked with the difficult decision of how to make up a $138 million budget deficit in the upcoming school year.

RELATED: Cy-Fair ISD anticipates $73.6M budget shortfall due to inflation and lack of state funding

One librarian who spoke to ABC13 said the news she received last Friday from the district hit her like a brick wall. In a Zoom meeting, she said all librarians were told that library programs would be eliminated. She asked to have her identity concealed and her voice distorted in her interview due to fear of retaliation.

"I felt completely blindsided. Shocked. Devastated. Just couldn't breathe. I thought I was going to have a panic attack and could not believe this was happening. I'm not expendable. School librarians are skilled in curriculum development and these students deserve to have a dedicated, full-time certified professional in their library," the librarian said.

Cy-Fair ISD said its 92 campus librarian positions will be cut down to 42, leaving the remaining staff members to each oversee multiple schools and thousands of students.

Librarians said they were told that whoever remains will be chosen based on seniority. Others may be offered teaching positions within the district. In the meeting, they learned that four positions will remain for high school librarians, seven for middle schools, and 31 for elementary schools.

"Students are going to lose out on having the love of literacy, the joy of listening to a story during book talks and author visits," the librarian said. "Students need to be readers, to be critical thinkers, and to live in a free-thinking democratic society that has to start at the elementary level. When we begin to dilute this information, they don't develop the skills they need."

READ MORE: Cy-Fair ISD parents uneasy about potential policy allowing chaplains to serve as school counselors

Parents like Aly Fitzpatrick said she's upset because of the crucial roles their librarians play in their children's academic success. They created a FaceBook group over the weekend that already has more than 4,000 members, started an online petition, planned an informational session for the community on Wednesday at Juergen's Hall at 7 p.m., and organized to speak at Thursday's board work session.

"Librarians are going to be run ragged, trying to get between multiple schools and serve all those students. The students will suffer. That's who's going to feel it the hardest and fastest," Fitzpatrick said. "The district should have held town halls and engaged the community to ask questions to see what's important to us."

This is not a problem unique to Cy-Fair ISD. Just a few months ago, Spring Branch ISD made a similar decision, as well as Houston ISD last summer. Parents fault Gov. Abbott and state lawmakers for failing to increase public school funding in the previous five years.

READ MORE: HISD to eliminate librarians and convert libraries into disciplinary centers at NES schools

"The first emotion that came to me was blind anger, because we should not be having to cut any positions in our schools right now. My question to Dr. Douglas Killian (Cy-Fair ISD's superintendent) is, what are you doing to put pressure on Gov. Abbott? The governor needs to fund schools. He could call a special session today. This isn't just happening in Cy-Fair. This is a statewide budget crisis," Fitzpatrick said.

In a statement to ABC13, a spokesperson for Cy-Fair ISD wrote:

"Staff reduction is inevitable when almost 90% of the budget is allocated to personnel. Due to a projected $138 million deficit for the 2024-2025 school year, the plan includes a reduction from 92 Campus Librarians to 42 District Librarians. Additionally, district-wide, approximately 320 teachers, 66 paraprofessionals and support staff, 150 district/campus level administrators and professional support staff, and 60 operations and 21 maintenance positions are impacted by the budget reduction."

Requests for comment from Gov. Abbott's office were not returned.

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