He hitches his horse, Buddy, up to the car and yells, “Pull, Nellie, pull!”
Buddy doesn’t move.
“Pull, Buster, pull!”
Buddy doesn’t budge.
“Pull, Coco, pull!”
Then the farmer says, “Pull, Buddy, pull!”
And the horse drags the car out of the ditch.
Curious, the motorist asks the farmer why he kept calling his horse by the wrong name.
“Buddy’s blind,” said the farmer. “And if he thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn’t even try.”
I like this little story because it reminds me of how summertime in the school district requires such a team effort.
For the next two months the buildings will be empty, the buses will not pick up children and teachers will take a much needed break. The next question I hear is, “I wish I had your job now. Whatdya’ you do now the kids are gone, go fishin?”
After many years as a superintendent, I don’t even try to respond with an explanation, but I just smile and walk away. No one seems to understand that this is the busiest time of the year for us.
For example, there are some 10,000 textbooks to be organized, catalogued and replaced. There are 40 buses which must be safely inspected, tuned up, aligned and tires rotated. There are five school campuses with over 100,000 square feet of floor space that have to be waxed and polished. Then there’s plumbing to be adjusted, air conditioners cleaned and serviced as well as bathrooms scrubbed. There are curriculum materials and student/teacher supplies that arrive all summer and must be routed to the appropriate school and classrooms. With four commercial kitchens, there is major preparation to be completed with ovens, refrigerators, walk-in coolers and dishwashers that must be serviced and readied for health inspection.
Then there are the budgets.
By July first, the multi-million dollar budget for the 2012-13 school year must be reconciled and expended. By July 1, we must also have the new 2013-14 budget and spending plans in place that must be aligned with purchase orders, payroll, insurance and equipment.
During that time, interviews must be conducted to fill vacancies and personnel hired for school in August for administrators, teachers, cafeteria workers, janitors and bus drivers. All openings must be filled by August 1. In the midst of all these functions, there will also be enrichment activities at the middle school, bus driver certification at the Vo-Tech, football and softball practice on the athletic fields, summer band camp, Sundancer racing and cheerleader workshops.
Oh, and did I mention that there are only eight weeks to accomplish these things?
What was that someone said about time to go fishing?
Oh yeah, crickets or worms? The bass here seem to really like the purple shads. Pass me a cold soda. No, it doesn’t matter if it’s only on the Internet!
Dr. Steve Coker is Superintendent of the Houston School District. He can be reached at 456-3332.