Lowell Public Schools Embarks on District-Wide Revitalization of School Libraries
Superintendent of Schools Joel Boyd and Mayor Sokhary Chau have announced the first step in the development of a multi-year, comprehensive, district-wide revitalization plan for school libraries in all Lowell Public Schools.
Library services and staff in Lowell Public Schools were among the resources that were reduced four years ago to resolve the district’s structural deficit in the wake of the financial crisis of 2018.
As Lowell continues its recovery from the pandemic and the school district continues on its path toward restoring normalcy in classrooms, the district has invested heavily in a multi-tiered system of support to accelerate learning for all students to overcome the academic impact of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Among those investments, Superintendent Boyd will recommend earmarking approximately $2 million from the federally-appropriated Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund, to be used over a two-year period to:
- Update its library book collections and digital library resources to ensure all schools are fully-equipped with a 21st century library-media center and that the media offered is reflective of the diversity of all LPS students.
- Assess and supplement staffing levels to ensure all school-based, library-media centers are accessible to all students and families.
- Purchase software to be used in libraries to help students improve their reading levels and access resources that align with their interests, improving K-12 literacy.
- Implement cataloging software that makes it easier to sign-out books as well as digital offerings and technology.
Use of these ESSER funds will complement the technology upgrades made possible by the $3 million the district has been awarded from the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Connectivity Fund program. Those funds will be used to upgrade technology infrastructure, as well as provide hot spots that students can borrow in times of temporarily interrupted internet connectivity at home.
“The current state of our school libraries and the impact of the 2018 budget cuts to our school communities has been shared with me by staff and families citywide since I began as Superintendent. From my professional experiences as a teacher, principal and superintendent to my personal experiences, I know how vitally important access to books is for improving literacy,” said Boyd. “A well-equipped, up-to-date library/media center should be a central hub for every school community. That’s going to be our standard and I’m looking forward to collaborating with staff and families to make that a reality for every school in the district.”
“As a city councilor and now as Mayor, I’ve met with countless families and community members who have expressed a deep desire for us to improve our school libraries and provide greater access to literacy activities for our children and families,” said Chau. “Many of our students, like I once was, are immigrants to this country, learning English as a second language. Access to books and other library resources are critical to language development and overall academic success. This is an equity issue for our public-school families, and I’m excited that all of our school libraries will prosper once again.”
The Lowell Public Schools Office of Teaching and Learning is actively assessing school library resources to determine funding gaps and current needs for each school to implement the newly re-defined standard for school library-media centers within the FY23 budget. The specific resources required to begin to revitalize school library services across the district will be included as part of the Superintendent’s recommended FY23 budget in anticipation of implementation ahead of the 2022-2023 school year. The Superintendent’s complete recommended budget for FY23 will be reviewed by the School Committee in open public session in May.