Grizzly Hill School will no longer have a librarian after the school board decided the position could be eliminated to reduce its budget deficit.
Roo Cantada, who worked for the district for 13 years, said she is sad to leave the school but will not give up hope of spreading literacy in the community.
“A lot of those students don’t have access to the Internet at home or current book titles or anybody at home driving them to the library,” she said.
Cantada will appeal the board’s decision at a meeting 4 p.m., Tuesday, at the school library.
“I’m making a presentation to the school board outlining all the things I’ve done besides libraries for the past 13 years,” she said.
Not only had Cantada accepted a reduction in hours from her already part-time status, she was a part of the parent-teacher club, site council and the Washington library. She also organized several fundraisers, field trips and the Ridge Stock Music festival.
“When I first started making money, I donated 10 percent of profits back to the school,” Cantada said. “It was only about $300 to $500 for a couple years in a row, but it was still something.”
Cantada said she had offered numerous alternatives to being laid off.
“I can have less hours, a shorter week or whatever is necessary just to keep me there in the degree of librarian,” she said.
“They’re working on trying to reduce the deficit spending, but my position involves less than 2 percent of that deficit, and if you consider all the money I bring in with grants and things, it’s less than 1.5 percent of a total budget, so I’m not sure what they’re thinking.”
The school has had a librarian for 25 years, Cantada said, and she was working one day a week at one point.
“I had three other jobs to try to make it, but I had the continuity,” said Cantada.
“I cried for the whole week when I found out about it. I can find another job, but my heart is broken.”
Some parents were disappointed at the news of the layoff. An online petition has been organized to save her position at www.change.org/petitions/grizzly-hill-school-board-save-the-grizzly-hill-library-re-hire-roo-cantada.
“The fact that we have a library and we’re so small is a benefit to the school, and we’re looking at ways to set us apart and this is a way to set us apart,” said Jennifer Crosby, parent of a seventh- grader. “I think it’s a huge mistake to get rid of the librarian.”
Twin Ridges school board President Jacob Freydont-Attie said the decision was purely financial and the library will remain open and accessible to students.
“We believe we can keep our library open to volunteers and teachers checking books in and out,” Freydont-Attie said. “We’re a small school and in deficit spending, and we’re doing what we can ... It seemed excessive to have a petition for something that can be done through teachers and parents.”
Cantada said it is unrealistic to think teachers can monitor books and maintain the library.
“It’s not going to be maintained for the resource and not as accessible for the kids, won’t be replenished with current titles and books won’t be repaired and replaced, and there will probably be no accountability for the books people lose.”
Cantada also organized a community library out of the school for eight years, the books for which are currently held in storage because the district voted to close that library.
But Cantada did not give up hope. She pitched the idea for a community library to the parks and recreation board, on which she was previously a board member. She also applied for a CalWORKs grant and was approved for $17,000, which she was going to use for the community library and information center, she said.
When the school was unable to serve as her fiscal agent, but was unable to because they did not own the building, the funds had to be channeled through parks and recreation, which also fell through, and she lost the grant.
“The park district didn’t have meetings in a timely fashion, were in the interim of finding a bookkeeper, and so the grant was no longer available.”
Cantada will work to gain nonprofit status and reapply next year, she said.
“I’m kind of back to square one,” she said. “Now I’m just a girl with a lot of books.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.
*Changes have been made to this story