The SNP Constituency MSP for Argyll & Bute Michael Russell has urged Argyll & Bute Council to reverse its decision on the axing of all school librarians and has suggested a way in which the £191,000 to be saved by the move could be found.
Speaking before he raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament Debate on the Budget, due to be held on the afternoon of Wednesday 24th February, Mr Russell said:
“The salami slicing of budgets undertaken by the Council administration has been hugely damaging. The alternative budget put forward by the SNP Group would have saved jobs and protected services and in particular it would have seen the retention of the much valued school library service.
The decision of the current administration to axe that service in its entirety leaves Argyll & Bute without a basic and essential part of its educational infrastructure. It has quite rightly been met with an outcry across the area and further afield.
As the award winning author Debi Gilori has put it “it’s unbelievable that at one end of Argyll there will be billions spent on weapons of debatable usefulness and at the other there will be a clawback of an essential resource which has time and again proven to be of life-changing value.”
Last Wednesday I was on Mull where there is a strong campaign getting underway to resist the removal of a school librarian who does change lives by her work. That campaign is being mirrored in other places too.
Today I want to suggest to Argyll & Bute Council a simple solution to the problem they have created .
The same meeting that decided to do away with school librarians agreed to set up a committee to choose a new Chief Executive. The cost of that post including travel and pension will come to slightly more than the cost of all the school librarians put together.
So Argyll & Bute council should put books and children before filling senior management posts. It should create an Acting Chief Executive post, appointing one of the present senior management team, and then undertake a radical decentralisation of management and delivery, something that the Council now claims to be committed to in any case.
That solution would be easy to implement, almost immediate in its effect given that the existing Chief Executive is leaving in May and would show that Dick Walsh’s administration had the correct priorities.
This is the right thing to do and it should be done now.”