Letter: Pony Up, Greenwich Library. Bridge Digital Divide for 120 Students without Internet

Letter received Nov. 26, 2015 from Jodi Weisz:

I am heartened to hear that Selectman Drew Marzullo and members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation have called for the immediate funding of approximately 120 students in Greenwich’s public schools to gain Internet access at home.

It is ennobling that leaders in our community have pushed for an interim appropriation on this matter, realizing as I do from my years in municipal government that interim appropriations are generally reserved for main water breaks and roof collapses.

I have an idea which will prevent the need for an interim or emergency appropriation. The money, indeed, has already been allocated.

The $10,000-$50,000 in question should come out of the line item–for outreach–from the Greenwich Public Library’s budget, no later than Dec. 1, 2015.

I actually commend the BOE for guestimating the number of students/households, although I do roll my eyes that this is somewhat of a Johnny-come-lately, top-down approach to releasing the unicorn of “the digital learning initiative.”

Before a school district can succeed with a digital learning initiative it must conquer any existing digital divide. I hope this was told to you by the experts you hired!

Librarians have a professional obligation to bring attention to this matter and to conquer it as one of the public library’s first mandates. Five years ago, I told the–then–Director of the Greenwich Public Library this was an issue in Town. How did I know? From one after school visit I made to the Boys and Girls Club. Have you seen the computer room at the Boys and Girls Club lately? I did–again–just last week. Now compare it to the children’s computer area at the Greenwich Public Library. Need I say more?

Yes, colleagues, a check–covering the cost of providing Internet access to these students–needs to be given to the BOE by December 1st.

Children living in Wilbur Peck, Armstrong Court, New Lebanon, Hamilton Avenue are not surmounting the Divide with the four designated workstations at the Main Library you have set up. The adjacent 1,000 square foot room dedicated to thousands of picture books is clearly your priority along with providing “Candy Crush” access to adults who are non-residents.

The Director of the Greenwich Public Library should deliver this check to Mr. Marzullo within 2 weeks.

Indeed, not one more gallery showing; not one more “Star Wars Return of the Jedi” movie night; not one more “Healing Touch Therapy” program until the Greenwich Public Library allocates this very small amount of money – in percentage of its huge annual budget – to closing the Digital Divide in Greenwich.

If the Greenwich Public Library does not fund this by December 1st, then I staunchly question its priorities and leadership.

I do realize that Ms. Ormerod-Glenn resides in Rye, NY and that this issue may not be on her radar.

But, Ms. Ormerod-Glenn, the Digital Divide exists here in Greenwich and we want it resolved. Our students deserve more than four workstations 14-20 blocks from their homes. Their parents will not allow them to walk home late at night–back to Josephine Evaristo Avenue–alone.

This is an urgently needed appropriation. Since it is we who fund the Library, along with The Friends, we want this accomplished by the end of this year.