The Monroe Education Association will address the Monroe School Board on Monday night, asking members to reconsider replacing K-8 certified teacher-librarians with digital learning teachers and library specialists.

MEA president Shaerie Bruton said the union was surprised to learn that current librarians at Monroe elementary schools would not be offered training to fill these new roles, but were instead issued involuntary transfer notices. This is despite a commitment by the district during bargaining discussions last summer to support the professional growth of its current librarians, Bruton said.

While the district has historically consulted with the district and offered first right of refusal before making a change, Bruton said, librarians instead received letters that identified the open positions in the district that they were qualified to apply for.

“It’s really gotten bad,” she said. “They’ve treated these employees horribly.”

The school district submitted a letter to the editor earlier this month, which doesn’t mention the fate of current K-8 librarians, but instead addresses the benefits of “certificated Digital Learning Teachers and full-time classified Library Specialists.”

These positions will better meet new state requirements, according to the Monroe School District, including “the Washington State Educational Technology Learning Standards, the Computer Science Technology Standards and delivering the Digital Literacy, Citizenship and Responsibility education.”

“As a result, we are making shifts in our current staffing to achieve these learning goals,” the letter states.

These changes are expected to not only maintain current library functions, but also increase access and the availability of digital resources.

Bruton said the library specialists the school district will bring in are not certificated teacher-educators; they are paraeducators.

“In the law it’s all about teacher-librarians — certified teacher-librarians,” she said.

Bruton said she plans to speak out about the loss of current librarians at elementary schools during the school board meeting, which is set for 6-7 p.m. Monday, May 14, at Monroe High School, 17001 Tester Road. She has also invited the presidents of the Washington Education Association and Washington Library Association to speak.