Spokane Moms Campaign Grass-Roots Success Story; South Hill Women Raise Awareness, Help To Restore Library Funding

Thanks largely to the lobbying efforts of three women who have become heroes among librarians nationwide, Spokane Public Schools is restoring some of the funding cut from elementary libraries last year.

The school district last year cut $350,000 in library money, part of $10.8 million in budget cuts. That meant 10 librarians were reduced to part-time hours.

In response to the cuts, Spokane mothers Lisa Layera Brunkan, Denette Hill and Susan McBurney started an online petition that eventually netted 6,000 signatures. They spoke to state committees and sold T-shirts.

The Washington Legislature in March included $4 million for school libraries in the state budget. Spokane’s share amounts to $135,000, to which the school administrators want to add $65,000, despite having to make cuts elsewhere. And the state’s superintendent of public instruction recently recommended that the state pay for  one school librarian for every 500 students – an increase of about 50 percent more librarians.

Using the Spokane women’s efforts as a model, the American Association of School Librarians is creating a “tool kit” for library advocates.