Advocacy & Legislation Update

BIG NEWS FOR MA SCHOOL LIBRARIES

MSLA is thrilled to announce the passage of school library Bill S.1906. The passage is BIG news for school libraries throughout the state; especially those that have long been plagued with severely understaffed and underfunded programs. Right now, a commission is being created that will take an in-depth and honest look at the status of school libraries throughout the state. Data on staffing, funding, materials, and access to technology will all be compiled, analyzed, and reported with recommendations to the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. To keep up to speed with the work of the commission, follow the MSLA Legislative Committee on Twitter @MSLALegislation

TAKE ACTION

Speak Up to Increase Funding for MA School Libraries! There is a big opportunity in the works to increase funding for school libraries in Massachusetts. Over the next couple of months, the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) will be reassessing the Chapter 70 school finance law. Chapter 70 determines how much money school districts receive to deliver essential educational services. School libraries currently have no standing within the Department of Elementary and Secondary and are not mentioned explicitly in Chapter 70.  Consequently, school libraries often get hit hard when state aid or local aid is reduced. MSLA is asking the FBRC to recommend that the revised law include professionally staffed and well-supported school library programs for all students in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Please consider lending your voice to this unique opportunity by doing the following:

  1. Submit Testimony: MSLA Chapter 70 Testimony. Feel free to modify the testimony that MSLA has submitted to the FBRC and include personal anecdotes about why the school library is so important to students’ in your community. Email testimony to the following: Jennie.Williamson@mahouse.gov
  2. Testify: Over the next couple months, the FBRC is holding several public hearings throughout the state. Anyone can show up and testify. You can read directly from the MSLA Chapter 70 Testimony or include your own narrative. To find out when and where the hearings are being held, visit the MTA website.

Attend a Legislative Breakfast: Legislative breakfasts are laid-back, informal affairs that allow library teachers to strengthen their relationships with legislators and showcase the important work that they do on behalf of local constituents. You can attend a breakfast as an observer in the crowd or you can ask the host to be on the agenda and give a brief speech about school libraries. If you are interested in speaking at a legislative breakfast and are unsure of what to say, visit the Legislative Breakfast page on the MSLA Legislation website.

Legislative breakfasts are held throughout the state by both public and school libraries, and are organized and overseen by the Massachusetts Library Association (MLA). Breakfasts typically take place from 8-9am on Fridays, during the months of January-March. You are welcome to attend any breakfast you would like, including those held in public libraries, but it is important that you confirm your attendance with the host library at least several weeks in advance of the event. Check out the Library Legislative Breakfast Schedule on the MLA website to see which libraries (school or public) will be hosing an event in your neck of the woods!

http://www.masslib.org/2015Breakfasts

For current information anytime, bookmark the MSLA Legislative Committee website: www.MSLALegislation.weebly.com

MSLA Legislative Commitee Co-Chairs

Kendall Boninti – Waltham High School

Keri Martin – Chelsea Elementary Schools

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