Education Committee Examines School Library Funding, Clymer Reports
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) today led a meeting of the House Education Committee on the topic of school library funding. The meeting was held specifically to review and discuss the State Board of Education School Library Study of 2011.
“School libraries are critical components in fostering better literacy and creative thinking among our students, and I welcome discussion on this issue and how we can improve library services in our schools,” said Clymer. “It is clear through the study conducted that access, staffing and funding of school libraries are issues that need to be better addressed for the benefit of our students.”
The State Board of Education School Library Study of 2011 was conducted as a result of House Resolution 987 of 2010, which encouraged the Board of Education to undertake a study of school library resources and services for students in K-12 by measuring and comparing funding, facilities, access to print and electronic resources, professional support and instruction among the state’s school libraries.
“I was concerned to learn through the study that, on average, staffing, funding, access and resources are inadequate for achieving optimal benefit from these specialized educators,” said Clymer. “This study clearly illustrates that we need to look more closely at this issue and make sure that our school libraries are being used in a way that most benefits the students.”
In the 2011 Guidelines for Pennsylvania School Library Programs, a benchmark for funding was set at $41 per student for elementary schools, $45 per student for elementary schools and $50 per student for high schools; however, Clymer pointed to the study that revealed 39 percent of school districts only allocated between $1 and $10 per student for library resources and 3 percent provided no funding at all.
Eileen Kern from the Pennsylvania School Library Association stressed that more attention and importance needs to be placed on school library services to ensure better educational outcomes for students. “In 22 states over the past 25 years, research studies have confirmed that effective school library programs directly impact student achievement. Students in schools with quality school library programs learn more, earn better grades, and score as much as 22 percent higher on standardized tests than their peers,” she said.
“This study has only further served to strengthen my conviction as to the importance of school libraries,” said Clymer. “With the information contained in this study, we can now present a strong case when discussions begin for the 2013-14 state budget for the necessity of providing additional funding for this important educational component.”
Testifiers as today’s hearing included representatives from the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, the Education Law Center, the Pennsylvania Parent Teacher Association, as well as a university professor, school superintendent, school librarians, a recent high school student and college student.
State Representative Paul Clymer
145th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman