Education Opinion

Christmas Vacation – Bah! Humbug!

By Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D. — December 28, 2007 2 min read
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I was really looking forward to a break for the next two weeks while school was closed for the winter holiday. But, there’s so much that needs to be completed, we really can’t afford to stop. It’s more like catch up time than vacation time.

Early this morning I got several emails from our business manager about unfinished business which demanded immediate attention. Teacher retirement plan enrollments, final pay checks, and employee exit procedures were on the agenda. We have to create every policy, procedure, and form for our charter school. Someone told me that we are running a tiny school district with only one school. That person was correct. How hard can it be with only one school? It’s harder than you’d think, but not as hard as it could be.

After Katrina, the school district scheduled times and dates when employees could go into the storm damaged buildings under the supervision of school security personnel. You were allowed to remove your personal items from the building once a month on the special date for about eight to ten months. I made several trips to my office on the third floor of the central services building. The elevators were not working; the building was stuffy, moldy and extremely hot. I managed to take out most of my personal items including my copies of the New Orleans Public School policy manuals. The manuals had not been updated completely in several years. However, they are life savers for me when I need to write a policy for our charter school. The district was sued so many times the policies have been court tested and provide an excellent base from which to begin.

I was able to work in comfort for the first time since school opened because my home office is now completed. I have lovely furniture and all of my supplies in one spacious closet. The carpenters were with us up until Christmas Eve finishing the downstairs restroom in time for my family dinner guests’ arrival. I plan to unpack one or two crates a day until everything is in its place. Our business manager has already been put on notice that I won’t be coming to the school as often to sign checks or meet with people, now that my office is ready. They will have to come to me instead. Besides, if I don’t go to the school as often, the teachers will be less confused about the role of the charter school board and the charter school administration.

By the way, the Christmas party for the faculty was very nice. We had a great time all night. A large group of teachers all showed up together after obviously attending another party given by a former employee. I was happy to see them come. Better late than never. Several teachers even thanked the Board for sponsoring the party for them. There was still some tension in the air about the week’s events, but it was barely noticeable. Also, the gift certificates for the faculty arrived on time before they left school last Friday. I hope they realize how much we really care about them. I think we are going to be okay.

The opinions expressed in Starting Over: A Post-Katrina Education are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.