Gabriela Duenas, a McCaffrey Middle School seventh-grader, is among those who have stepped up to save Galt Joint Union Elementary School District's libraries. Due to budget cuts, all library technicians have been eliminated for fall, shuttering the school libraries.
When the district announced public support for a unified fundraising effort to reopen them, Duenas donated $40 in cash to the cause.
"I used it from my savings. My parents were very proud of me because they didn't expect it," she said. "I was very sad when they said they were going to close our libraries. If they do that, they close off our education."
Duenas has used the library to look up information for school reports.
Galt Joint Union Elementary School District board president John Gordon also donated money toward keeping school libraries open after a promise he said he made at a March school board meeting.
Marengo Ranch Elementary's parent-teacher organization earmarked last year's fundraising dollars to go toward the effort.
Parent Leesa Klotz is spearheading efforts to reopen the libraries next school year, and has worked with the district to establish a fundraising protocol that will assure donors that money collected will be used solely to reopen the libraries.
A donation form and letter signed by Klotz were sent out with students' final report cards last week.
Klotz, who has two students attending district schools, is working to map out a calendar of events. She is also in the process of contacting parents who showed an interest in her efforts at the recent school open houses, according to Superintendent Karen Schauer.
Klotz and former student Becky Woods are focusing on school libraries because, Klotz said, they affect every child.
"Here, at this beginning level of education, children's minds and academic habits are shaped," Klotz said. "Our school library program provides Galt students with the skills they need to select, interpret, form and communicate ideas in compelling ways."
Gordon finds it hard to believe the state is forcing school boards to make decisions like this, even after district unions and administrators have agreed to further cuts next school year.
When Duenas stood up unprompted at the school board meeting last month to donate her personal money, Gordon said it touched his heart, so he kicked in additional money.
"Considering that libraries touch every child attending our schools, I figured my donation was best placed there," he said in an email. "For me, this year really struck a chord with the cuts to school transportation and libraries. Our children deserve better."