By Jeanne Sager
LIVINGSTON MANOR May 21, 2004 Jill Parks fate lies in the balance.
With unfunded mandates and rising insurance costs, the Livingston Manor Central School Board of Education made some tough cuts in the budget voters approved Tuesday.
That included six teaching positions. But only five teachers chose to retire this year.
That left one more employee who would have to be cut from the staff with the least seniority, high school librarian Parks was ultimately low man on the totem pole.
But students in the Route 17 hamlet arent ready to let the White Sulphur Springs resident say goodbye.
So when Mondays board of education meeting was opened up to public comment, ninth grader Jackie Trotti pulled off her Manor Wildcats visor, smoothed her hair and raised her hand.
Her voice shaking, Trotti stood up and showed the board 222 reasons to keep Mrs. Parks.
We have more than 220 signatures from the student body and the community, she said, handing over a petition to Board President Sandra Coe.
Trotti returned to her seat to wait, her head huddled with her friends over a piece of paper that already listed more than 50 celebrities they hoped to appeal to . . .people like former librarian and First Lady Laura Bush and sports stars who could use an image boost by doing something good . . . folks they said could afford to give $1,000 each to maybe cover Mrs. Parks salary.
The district is planning to have elementary librarian Melanie Hyzer run both libraries. Theyve considered leaving a clerk in the upstairs room to open the door for kids who need to look for books.
It wont be fair to high schoolers, Trotti says. [Hyzer] would have elementary classes downstairs.
If they need to do reports, Trotti said, a clerk wouldnt have the knowledge that a trained librarian has to help the students.
Plus, added classmate Rose Curtis, the student body loves Ms. Parks.
They were lining up at lunch to sign, Trotti explained.
Marina Zayas, a seventh grader, was pouring through books in the high school library Monday night for names of people they could write to ironically turning to the very thing they might lose.
Zayas didnt want to lose Parks because shes a good asset for the school, she said.
Shes always here, and she knows what books we need, Zayas explained. She helps with our computer problems.
Even if were just interested in reading, she helps you find the exact book you want, Curtis added.
Livingston Manor Superintendent Debra Lynker said the district is pulling out all the stops to keep Parks on board.
A grant proposal has been written to fund the position, and after the petition was received Monday night, the board of education put off officially abolishing the high school librarian position.
Were very hopeful that well get this grant, Lynker said.
Parks fate will be discussed at the next meeting of the Livingston Manor Board of Education.