KINGSTON — Mike Harper has gathered about 800 signatures in two weeks urging the Wyoming Valley West School District’s board to reconsider the elimination of the middle school librarian position, and he plans to present them to the board at tonight’s monthly meeting.
“I’m hoping I can get up to the podium and bring this to the forefront,” Harper said Tuesday. “I think a lot of middle school parents aren’t even aware they don’t have a librarian.”
The district decided to eliminate the position last month and use a part-time aide to help students. Joann Prushinski, the state-certified librarian who had been managing the middle school facility, was shifted to elementary librarian, spreading her time among three schools.
Harper, a Kingston resident who runs Sharper Embroidery and Screen printing in Luzerne, said Prushinski is a friend and her sister works in his business, which is what prompted him to act. But he added the goal is not necessarily reinstating Prushinski in her old post, just that the post be reconstituted.
“The Pennsylvania State Board of Education has recommended there always be a state-certified librarian,” Harper said. “The middle school is now the only building in the district without one.” He added that students coming from the newly renovated State Street Elementary School, with a state-of-the-art library, will be transferring to a middle school with nearly 14,000 books and no librarian.
Union President Linda Houck had promised last month to file a labor grievance because the decision to eliminate the post and move Prushinski to the elementary schools should have, by law and contract, been announced last December.
The move is being grieved, said Harper, but he believes the issue needs to be put in the public eye as well. “Hopefully, some parents will show up and we can get them thinking about this,” he said. “I invite all concerned parents, taxpayers and voters to come to the middle school on Chester Street, Kingston, at 7 p.m.”