OGDEN -- Concerned residents who attended the Ogden School District board meeting Wednesday said they were pleased by the hiring of seven library media specialists but disappointed it could not be more.
"It was a good compromise," board member Steven Marker said after the meeting, at which the district's 2013-14 budget was approved.
"I was not comfortable with the way things happened last month. It was good to hear people's concerns, and it was good that we could act on that and find funding for a compromise."
The district announced last month that it was eliminating the position of licensed media specialist and letting go of all 20 of the district's specialists.
At the May 16 board meeting, about 140 members of the public overflowed the district's meeting room, and so many people signed up for public comment, the impassioned pleas and negative comments lasted more than an hour.
Superintendent Brad Smith this week announced the district had found additional funding sources and would hire seven library media specialists to create a program that will allow the district to get the most out of its library staff assistants, who are yet to be hired, and any librarians to continue working after the 2013-14 school year.
The seven librarians' pay and budget will come from the $491,000 the board budgeted for library staffers (funds that should remain available next year), plus an additional $250,000 from a federal Title program (which may or may not continue past this year) and $250,000 of enhancement money (available from the state for one-time use).
Wednesday's board meeting drew about 60 more visitors than usual, but only four Ogden residents signed up to speak, two representing groups and two representing themselves.
* Kelly Howard, representing a group of concerned parents from Shadow Valley Elementary, spoke to the board about the school's loss of good teachers, a few to retirement, but a high number to jobs in the Weber School District.
Howard talked about the cost to students of losing veteran teachers and replacing them with teachers of lesser experience. She asked the board to consider stopping involuntary teacher transfers; to communicate with teachers, principals and parents more clearly and with more transparency, to curtail fear and distrust; and to treat teachers as individuals with their own strengths.
* Danette Pulley asked the board to be more open with parents and teachers, which would help decrease fear and confusion.
She also asked the district to talk more about schools' true successes, which she said have been numerous over the past two years.
"Students like to hear they are the bomb and their teachers are rock stars," Pulley said.
* Suzanne Vincent, representing the Ogden High School Marching Band and its booster, said she and other parents wanted answers about the dismissal of a program leader.
Vincent said she also wanted to know why the district offers so little support to a program that is the largest and most popular in the school.
* And Margit Lister said she was there to congratulate district officials on their good work in improving student test scores.
"I am here to offer appreciation for the district and Mr. Smith," she said, adding she knew there were other community members who felt differently.
"Thank you for giving our children a voice," Lister said. "It's exciting to see other school districts model their turnarounds after the Ogden School District."
After the public participation, board members voted to approve the 2013-14 budget, pending the addition of tax-rate information from the local government.
School districts have a July 1 deadline to approve their budgets for the upcoming school year, and tax-rate information often arrives after that deadline.
Smith said the seven librarians whose funds are included in the 2013-14 budget have been hired and will begin working soon to set priorities and to hire and train library assistants.
Audience members lingered after the main meeting, which ended for a closed-session meeting about personnel matters. Several groups of audience members gathered to make plans to address their ongoing concerns with district actions.