Natomas Unified To Reopen Elementary School Libraries

** Updated Oct. 27 with a new date for school library openings.**
THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz
Most kindergarten students and first graders have never been inside the libraries at American Lakes and Jefferson elementary schools.
But that is expected to change Nov. 14 when the Natomas Unified School District reopens all its elementary school libraries again to students.
  • American Lakes Elementary is planning an open house at 8 a.m. in the library and “read aloud” sessions with students in the Media Center beginning at 9 a.m.
  • Bannon Creek Elementary will begin their celebration at 8 a.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony and assembly. A reception for parents will follow.
  • H. Allen Hight Elementary will begin their celebration in the library at 10 a.m. The community is welcome to attend.
  • Heron School (K-8) is having an Open House for parents in the library from 8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m. They will then have the grand opening as each grade level visits the library and students are allowed to check out a book.
  • Jefferson Elementary will celebrate the opening of their library with a ribbon cutting ceremony and refreshments. Their festivities will begin at 9 a.m.
  • Natomas Park Elementary will begin their day at 7:30 a.m. with a reception for parents in the library. The school mascot will greet students as they arrive to school and the library will open to classes at 10:20 a.m.
  • Two Rivers Elementary library will be decorated with balloons and parents and community members are invited to a reception in the library at 7:20 a.m. Kids will check-out books throughout the day during their library time.
  • Witter Ranch Elementary plans to have their first grade students gather in the multi-purpose room at 8:30 a.m. to celebrate the opening of their library by reading a story.

“Libraries are really a critical part of students educating themselves,” said Dr. Juanita Reynolds, principal at the 485-student Jefferson campus. “Libraries give students the opportunity to learn to love books.”

In April 2010, the Natomas Unified school board laid off library workers and closed elementary school libraries as part of budget cost-cutting measures.
School libraries were kept open for older students at Natomas High, Inderkum High and Natomas Middle schools. (Seventh- and eighth-grade students at Heron, the district’s only K-8 campus, lost access to their school library along with their younger schoolmates.)
Nearly a year later, in January 2011, the Natomas district was able to reopen more than half its elementary school libraries with donated money raised by parent groups.
Two part-time library media technicians were brought back to restore some library services – temporarily – at H. Allen Hight, Bannon Creek, Natomas Park, Witter Ranch and Two Rivers elementary schools. The two positions were shared by all five schools through the end of the 2010-11 school year, when the library workers were laid off.
Libraries that have remained closed at American Lakes, Jefferson and Heron schools are tentatively scheduled to re-open for the first time in one-and-a-half years next week.
“The kids are excited about coming in and using the resources,” said Paul Guyer, interim principal at the 530-student American Lakes campus. “The little ones are really excited, they have never had the experience of coming into a school library.”
Natomas Unified is in the process of bringing back some of its laid off library workers and hiring new ones to staff all eight elementary school libraries for three hours and 50 minutes, five days a week, said Janet Handley, assistant superintendent of educational services for Natomas Unified.
“We’re thrilled,” said Handley of the pending library openings.
Every class, at each elementary school, will have a chance to spend 30-minutes per week in the library, Handley said. The libraries will also be kept open for 15 minutes after school gets out for those students wanting to renew books or check out more.
Said Bruce Roberts, Natomas Unified school board president, “Reopening the libraries is great for our students; it provides them with access to large selections of books, study resources and wonderful librarians.”



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