Cy-Fair ISD Plans To Cut Its Librarian Staff While Addressing Tight Budget

The plan would leave 42 librarians in a district with 117,000 students and 88 schools.

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District board votes to approve the contract for the new superintendent Douglas Killian, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Cypress. (Marie D. De Jesús/Houston Landing)

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Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District leaders plan to cut their librarian staff in half next year, becoming the latest Houston-area district to reduce librarians amid budget cuts. 

Expecting a $138 million budget deficit for the 2024-25 school year, leaders of the Houston-area’s second largest school district are aiming to slash roughly 670 staff positions, including 50 librarians.

The plan would leave 42 librarians in a district with 117,000 students and 88 schools.

The changes have not yet been voted on by the district’s school board, but a district spokesperson confirmed the plans to the Landing on Monday. The district has until the end of June to adopt a finalized budget.

“Staff reduction is inevitable when almost 90 percent of the budget is allocated to personnel,” district spokesperson Leslie Francis said Monday. 

As Texas school districts reduce costs, librarians have taken blows.

Four of Texas’ largest school districts — Houston, San Antonio and Spring Branch, and now Cy-Fair — have either made plans to or have eliminated dozens of librarians in the last year. 

Texas lawmakers failed to significantly increase public school funding during the 2023 legislative session, spelling financial trouble for districts as they grapple with inflationary costs and the end of pandemic-relief funds. 

Tara Cummings, a parent with students at Cy-Woods High School and Spillane Middle School, feels like the district’s leadership has its hands tied as it tries to save money, but she wishes the changes didn’t have to gut “the heart and soul of a school.”

“I don’t know really what the alternative is. The cuts have to come from somewhere,” Cummings said. “The anger needs to be focused on our Republican-led state government. They have the money to fund public education. They just won’t do it.”

A Cy-Fair spokesperson did not respond to a list of questions about the reduction plan, including how the 42 librarians would be placed across 88 schools.

Cy-Fair Superintendent Douglas Killian assembled a group of community members and stakeholders to form a “budget reduction advisory committee” and make recommendations to the administration. 

New Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District superintendent Douglas Killian speaks about his approval for the role Thursday in Cypress. (Marie D. De Jesús/Houston Landing)

However, cutting librarians was not included in a list of committee ideas or listed on the budget reduction plan presented to trustees at an April 22 board meeting. Board president Scott Henry did not respond to calls from the Landing Monday. 

In recent budget workshops, leaders have discussed their plan to offset $70 million of their $138 million deficit with their fund balance, or rainy day funds. The rest will come from cost-saving changes, such as cutting staff positions. 

Librarians in Cy-Fair earned annual salaries ranging from roughly $64,000 to $97,000 in 2022-23, the most recent year with state data.

“I think there’s probably a less worse option than (cutting librarians), but I don’t know what it is,” said Cummings, the Cy-Fair parent. “And regardless of what it is, it’s going to piss off somebody and devastate somebody.”

In an email to a community member obtained by the Landing, Superintendent Killian warned “this is truly the beginning of cuts” and the librarian reductions are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

This article first appeared on Houston Landing and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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