San Bruno libraries saved at 11th hour

San Bruno students will continue to have access to school libraries for the 2010-11 school year, according to a new plan approved last week by the San Bruno Park Elementary School District board of trustees.

After the school district made cuts to its $18.9 million budget earlier this year, the elementary school library operation was in jeopardy.

Even in tough economic times, education-code stipulations do not allow volunteers to take over library positions previously held by support staff, Superintendent David Hutt said.

“Before, we were in a position to lay off all positions,” board President Kevin Martinez said. “We now are at a level of support that we can maintain throughout the year. It’s a good place for us to be.”

The plan allows libraries at the eight elementary schools in the district to open with the same staffing levels as the 2009-10 school year on the first day of school today.

“We are ecstatic that we get to have the libraries open at the start of the school year,” Hutt said. “All employees in library positions have reaffirmed they will be going back to their schools this year.”

Library funding comes as a result of the district gaining authority from the State Allocation Board to use proceeds from the sale of surplus property at the former Carl Sandburg Elementary School site, Martinez said.

The actual dollars from the sale cannot be used toward the district’s ongoing expenses, but the funds will be used indirectly to pay for library employee salaries.

“In the plan we submitted to the state, there was an element included saying that the district would be fully capitalizing — on a one-time basis — all post-employee benefits,” Hutt said. “As a result, we had money in the general fund we could use for different purposes and the libraries were our top priority.”

Library schedules will ultimately be determined by each school, but hours are based on a formula of 30 minutes for every 20 students enrolled in the schools, Hutt said. The plan allows every class to have a weekly visit to the library for 30 minutes.

“The times set up for students are very equitable,” Martinez said. “The formula supports student access to libraries, as well as maintenance to library materials.”

shaughey@sfexaminer.com

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