The Culver-Union Twp. Public Library board voted to waive usage fees for its large meeting room for use by a local teacher after a sometimes-heated discussion concerning tutoring in the space.
Culver Elementary 2nd grade teacher Tina Bailey, addressing the board at its Aug. 21 meeting, said she started using the room Mondays through Thursdays after school for tutoring children with dyslexia. Library policy, as of last November, dictates a $10 fee per hour to use the space, since Bailey charges a fee for the service (as opposed to free programs, which are not charged). Library director Colleen McCarty told the board Bailey had been "unofficially grandfathered in" and had not been charged through the end of the 2011-2012 school year.
In preparation to use the room again through this school year, Bailey requested a waiver of the fee, noting the cumulative costs would be a burden when factored in with the cost of paying two assistant tutors, a site license, and materials for students.
"Parents felt free to drop their kids off here," said Baily. "It's easy access. It's been really nice being able to be welcomed here."
In response to board member queries, Bailey said she believes she's unable to use the school building for the program since she charges for tutoring. She explained she's a certified screener and tutor using Susan Barton's Orton-Gillingham method of tutoring, which takes a multisensory approach to helping students learn. She said she's had many parents contact her, both in the Culver school corporation and others, and that students from Knox and Plymouth are tutored at the library in addition to Culver students, totaling some 10 to 12 in all.
She added she brought Barton to Culver last year for a free workshop, and that her program has a "high success rate." She said she charges $40 per hour to parents who can afford it, but pro-rates the fee and in some cases charges nothing, if parents aren't able to pay.
A handful of parents were on hand to discuss the impact the program has had on their children's confidence and academic performance.
Board member Carol Saft said she had a problem with the school not facilitating the program within its walls, with which one parent agreed, noting the state of Indiana doesn't recognize dyslexia as a learning disability.
"We get doors shut when we try to help our kids," said one parent.
"The whole idea of the library is to help children," he added. "It's a public building; we all pay our taxes"
It was added if Bailey's tutoring becomes a "viable business," the fees could be reevaluated.
Board member Joan Bess suggested a waiver be granted for another year.
"I think it's very much needed," she said. "It's wonderful that there is somebody to teach these students. To me it should come from the school, but I don't know all the state regulations and how that works."
Saft "strongly urged" Bailey to donate to the library at the end of the year. She also urged Bailey and the parents to go before the school board to discuss the matter.
Board member Melanie Robertson, noting she's a former employee of Culver Community Schools, said "they have a lot going on there; there are fantastic learning opportunities."
MUSEUM DECISION REVISITED
In other discussion, board president Jim Hahn asked the board for input on a letter from the Antiquarian and Historical Society noting a community-derived museum committee has formed and would like to sit down with the library board to discuss ways the Society can help the library with its space concerns. The letter was in reference to a 2010 decision by the library board to give the Society three years' notice to vacate the space currently occupied by its Center for Culver History local history museum and research center. The move would take effect in Oct., 2013.
Hahn emphasized he could not appoint a committee, as requested by the Society, without a resolution from the board.
"My feeling is, 22 months ago we had a length meeting," said board member Alfred Nyby. "I thought this was all resolved. We've started to make plans for the space (occupied by the museum). It's a resolved issue."
Robertson noted several board members attended a town hall style meeting hosted by the Society in May, at which staying in the library was dismissed as not a viable option.
Jim Sawhook, representing the Society, explained a separate committee from the Society was formed to study options regarding where to go and what to do.
"There was enough discussion on that committee that it was thought it appropriate to at least revisit this," he said. "As everyone's aware, there's a lot of feeling in this regard (that the museum should stay in the library) within town. They wanted this to be one of the options."
"None of you think we should talk with them?" asked Bess. "Are these discussion points worth discussing?"
"One of our concerns is the value of the items in the room," said Robertson, referring to the suggestion, in the letter, that the museum space could be opened up for public meetings. "For it to be used as a public space - what we really need is quiet study area, and space for individual tutoring, and library staff space. (The Antiquarians) have priceless things that could be damaged or stolen. I don't think a shared space is in their best interest or ours."
Saft, noting she had recently been hired by the Society and so would not vote on the matter, said, "It's a small town; I don't know why we can't work it out -- why we can't listen to somebody....yes, (vacating the museum) was approved, but what happens if someone comes up with another idea? Should we not allow that?"
Bess made a motion that a sub-committee be formed to meet with the Society, but with no second, the motion died. It was agreed Hahn would draft a letter to AHS president Jim Peterson to that effect.
LIBRARY FINANCES, OTHER ITEMS
During his financial report, Nyby discussed details of the library spending and receipts for July, as well as updating the board on the library's group health insurance plan, which will likely increase by 10 to 15 percent this year.
The library is asking for just under $800,000 for its 2013 budget, a decrease from $840,330 for this year. Specifically, Nyby said the operating budget for next year was decreased, the Rainy Day fund bumped up from $35,000 to $40,000, and overall a two percent increase in budget requested, as recommended by the State Board of Accounts.
"It's amazing we've kept expenditures this low and continue to provide the services we do," he added.
During her director's report, library director Colleen McCarty noted three staff persons recently left the library, including a circulation clerk position she expects to fill within a few weeks.
She said a recent Friends of the Library book sale was successful (Friends president Charlotte Hahn, in the audience, said a little over $130 was brought in), and discussion was held as to the status of Overdrive, the library's online e-book and audiobook service, which McCarty said many libraries are dropping. She said the service hasn't broken 100 circulated items per month, less than one percent of library usage. She noted the hope would be to replace the service with another, similar one.View more articles in: