Can we do more with less ?
Virgil Middle School on Vermont Ave near the 101 Freeway is about 100 years old. Yet, to look at it, you'd never know it. That's because the staff there places a high priority on maintenance, on trash pickup, on keeping the environment clean and conducive to learning. In fact, they even have some beautiful rose bushes out in front, though the full time gardener is long gone due to budget cuts that have trimmed a maintenance staff from 12 to 6.
They have to ‘' get creative'' , and sometimes that means the principal installs the movie screen in the third floor classroom rather than waiting months for the one carpenter assigned to this area to get to it.
I spent some time at Virgil today, and they clearly take a lot of pride in their school (though they are really annoyed that a malfunctioning alarm control panel has been beeping mysteriously for a year, defying repairmen.)
I was there as a follow up to the story we did this past Friday focusing on a new Facebook page called ‘'repairs not Ipads'' where teachers have posted nasty photos of problems in schools that have gone unrepaired for far too long.
When I asked if I could go to a school with issues, and accompany a repair crew, they came up with Virgil and a repair of some ceiling tiles. Not exactly an emergency, but It was a repair.
If you want to know why they are spending a billion (eventually) on Ipads, while repairs go undone, it's complicated, but the short answer is the money comes from a different source of funds.
Bond money has been earmarked, at least a small part of it, for technological improvements, which Superintendent Deasy managed to get broadened to include Ipads.
The maintenance money basically comes from the general fund. The schools say they have about $99 million a year for that, and need about $400 million, for 900 schools with about 250 -300 thousand calls for service a year.
Well, why can't we take more of that bond money which voters approved for ‘' construction and modernization'' and use it for repairs in a creative way ? The short answer, to me, seems to be that we could, but no one has managed to formulate the required re-interpretation of bond money usage and figure out how to force it through the school board. Yet.