OGDEN -- As if public comments weren't enough, an Ogden mother of three has established an online petition to garner community support to try to thwart Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith's proposal to cut 20 media specialist jobs from the district for the coming school year.
"Removing certified librarians from elementary and junior high schools districtwide contradicts the district's mission to improve failing schools, support successful schools, and raise the bar for student achievement," petition organizer Heather A. Turner said on her social media petition.
The Ogden Board of Education is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at the district offices, 1950 Monroe Blvd. Turner said it is her hope that an army of concerned parents will attend the meeting and let their voices be heard.
In the meantime, Turner, a product of Ogden City Schools, has created an online petition in which every signature to it generates an email to district officials and board members requesting they retain certified librarians in the schools districtwide.
The petition can be found by visiting: www.change.org/petitions/ogden-school-district-retain-certified-libraria....
"Every signature sends a message with it," Turner said.
"We have set an arbitrary goal of 1,000 signatures before the next school board meeting," said the graduate of Ben Lomond High School and Weber State University.
As of Thursday afternoon, Turner said, her petition, which she established May 5, already had 372 supporters.
It won't be until the June 12 meeting that the school board is expected to take action on the proposed cuts.
Turner said it is her hope through social media, as well as phone calls, that concerned parents will contact their school board representative to voice opposition to Smith's rationale.
Smith has said the decision not to renew the 20 media specialist contracts for next year will save the district about $990,000 in salaries and benefits, which would begin to address the district's $2.7 million shortfall.
But rather than wanting her petition to take on an us-versus-them mentality, Turner said, it is her hope her petition will bring about a spirit of collaboration between the parents and school officials to do what is best for the students.
"I'm just a mom. I care. I have an invested interest with three children to go through the school system," Turner said, who has never before done anything like what she is doing now.
Turner said she has been rattled in the past by previous school board decisions, but never to the point of it forcing her out of her chair.
This particular issue is the straw that broke the camel's back, she said. "The time for complacency has long past."
Organizing the petition has already had an effect, Turner said, where it has resulted in her having a meeting with Smith on Thursday and caused school board member Steve Marker to express concern with the cuts.
"One board member has indicated he will not vote in favor of getting rid of certified librarians," she said.
There are seven members on the school board: Don Belnap, Jennifer Zundel, Jeffrey Heiner, Shane Story, Jeff Harris, Joyce Wilson and Marker.
The cuts can be avoided by the board rejecting the proposed budget, giving it the opportunity to manipulate the budget in a different way, in turn buying the time needed for the community to meet with state representatives and request more funding during the 2014 legislative session.