“We’ve Had Things Cleared Up…” State Rep. Says Local School Libraries Are Free To Run Without Certified Staff

“We’ve had things cleared up, I’m happy to report Brimley Schools may open their library without threat of funding,”

107th District State Representative Lee Chatfield says a Northern Michigan school’s library is free to reopen tomorrow, after a Department of Education memo caused confusion and forced them to close.

We first reported on the confusion on Monday.

The memo said the state would withhold state aid from schools who operated their libraries without certified librarians with a master’s degree.

It came as a shock to a lot schools in Northern Michigan.

Many of them have had para-professionals and other staff members check out books and read to kids.

That included Brimley, who’s library was closed Monday and Tuesday.

The school said they couldn’t risk losing any state aid.

Rep. Chatfield now says Brimley and other Northern Michigan schools no longer have to worry.

It’s unclear why the state issued this memo to begin with, or how things ended up getting resolved.

Vanderbilt like many schools in Northern Michigan only have their library open part time, that’s why they say it’s not realistic to hire a full time librarian with a master’s degree.

They’re glad the state Department of Education has decided to back off.

“The compiled law was written in 1979 and it was a totally different world then,” Vanderbilt Area Schools Superintendent Rick Heitmeyer, said.

Heitmeyer says his school didn’t receive the memo, but he was shocked when he heard about it.

“If we take this ruling, literally, most schools in the state of Michigan will be shutting their school library,” Heitmeyer, added.

That’s even more the case in Vanderbilt, a district that’s just now getting out of a long deficit.

“For us to suddenly have to hire someone with a master’s degree to run the library, we can’t afford to do that, so we would have to look how we would make this possible.

Rep. Chatfield called us after speaking with the Department of Education.

“When we have too much government interference, too much bureaucratic control, this is what happens. I appreciate their concern but we are operating just fine and we are going to continue to do so,” Rep. Chatfield, said.

He was happy to deliver the news that school libraries, like Brimley’s, could reopen and others no longer have to worry.

“That word needs to get out to all of our Northern Michigan schools and the Eastern UP, to ensure there’s no miscommunication in the future, and so this open line will be maintained with Department of Education to ensure this never happens again,” the representative, added.

We reached out to the state Department of Education about what Rep. Chatfield told us and have yet to hear back from them.