Monday, April 22, 2013

Fixer-Upper: School Edition

Last Saturday I worked with a bunch of volunteers from our church to help beautify a middle school in San Jose. It was the first day in a 2 weekend mission to clean, repair, and repaint the exterior of the school.

Here's how things went down:

11:40pm I show up, sign in, and get a name tag.

11:40-12:00pm I wait for the organizers to get ready for the next shift of people. The 8am-12pm crew of volunteers was just leaving. The crew worked so well that they were ahead of schedule. The morning crew had cleaned the windows and power-washed the walls.

12:00pm I am assigned "caulking" duty. I proceed to find out that caulking is another word for "Wall Wrinkle Remover". Other members of our crew spackled.

12:00-3pm I diligently caulk along the walls of the entire school. Someone mentioned that it would have been better if we had improved the school in sections rather than taking on the entire school in one swoop. I decide that this middle school is better than mine was because they have a ceramics class and a garden area. 

They even have their own wall mural... 

However they also have a large quad area with no shade -which would suck to stand out in during the summer.

3pm I decide I can't take another 2 hours of caulking and call it a day. I then overhear a conversation between one of the Organizers and a volunteer discussing the issues with the school system.

3 streets away stands a newly remodeled high school with solar panels. The volunteer asked, "What happened with this school? Why did the high school get a lot and this school get left behind?"

Organizer: I've worked on several school-remodeling crews and you wouldn't believe the rates construction crews charge schools. They charge twice the price of what I would consider a reasonable asking price.

Volunteer: Well the schools get a lot of money from the state why don't they put it towards those sort of projects?

Organizer: It's a bureaucracy. Anytime you have a large system to manage and politics gets in the way the money never goes where it should. Most of the time they don't know how much is coming in or how much is going out. It's a poorly managed budgetary system.

Volunteer: Man it's too bad they don't have it better managed. All that money is going to waste.

It was after over hearing this conversation that I decided 2 solutions would be good to implement to overcome these issues.

1. Retired CEOs should be asked to volunteer their time to mentor those in charge of running the school system and managing the budget.

2. More people in general should volunteer their time/efforts into schools in whatever way they can be of service. By getting more involved the community would have a greater sense of the issues facing schools and the solutions they can provide to correct them.

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