Last spring, Madison High School administration opted to cut its part-time library assistant, Wendy Giesler. And that decision left the 940-student school with one overwhelmed full-time librarian. So when class resumed this August, Madison's teachers agreed that the library aide position shouldn't have been expendable, and vowed to bring back their beloved Giesler – by figuring out how to pay her $11,000 yearly salary.
Teachers have already raised $1,000 through their own donations. And this Saturday, Oct. 4, they're hosting an "MHS Library Love Art Sale and Fun(draiser)," in hopes of pulling together at least $5,000 more – enough to cover Giesler's pay through January. To be held at Hipbone Studio on East Burnside, the benefit will drum up funds by auctioning off donated artwork.
Ginny Maxam, a language arts teacher at Madison who's donating some of her own drawings to the art sale, says teachers and students alike are mourning the loss of their assistant librarian.
"It's had a very big impact on students because the library is closed at lunch now, as well as before and after school," she says.
PPS spokesman Matt Shelby acknowledges that some schools are struggling to find the right balance in their "full-time equivalent" allocations, which allow schools a pool of funding to dip into for several positions such as classroom teachers, art teachers and librarians.
Other positions, like counselors, are mandated, and don't draw from that budget. Shelby says the district's short- to mid-term goal is to move librarians into that category, to promote equal distribution of the position through all schools and begin to fix the PPS library system's many problems.
"I can't say that it'll happen for next year," he says. "But that's the goal."