Friday, December 31, 2010

Volunteer - What does it mean?

What do you think of when you hear the word volunteer? For me, it is a person who is dedicated to a cause in such a way that they give freely of their time and energy to an organization in helping to sustain it. Volunteers make the world go round, in my opinion, and are in high demand for many organizations, including our public schools.

Just this past fall the local schools found themselves in a budget shortfall that had them out asking for more parent volunteers to help out in a variety of ways from secretarial work to the library and health room, and even as teacher aides. However, to work within the schools as a volunteer, you need to undergo a background check. The district has paid for these up until tomorrow. Starting January 1st, 2011, all volunteers that are required to undergo a background check will have to pay the $20 fee themselves.

But it gets even more interesting because the list of those required to background checks aren't the parents who volunteer to come into the classroom to assist with parties, go on field trips, or even chaperone school dances, having direct access to students. The ones required for background checks are those that have a regular schedule in the schools but may not even have direct contact with the kids. (Don't get me wrong here, I think it is important to check backgrounds and make sure those working around kids don't have a criminal history abusing kids, I am just questioning which ones get the check and who gets a pass.)

If the school needs help that badly, ie volunteers to put library books away and make photocopies in the office, then why can't they cover this one time, very nominal fee for those volunteers? How else do you thank volunteers for all their hard work and the FREE labor they provide? It all comes down to one Boy, BVSD sure has had its share of money issues this year and I have mentioned money quite a few times in my posts. So what is their end game in having volunteers pay for their own background checks? Perhaps it is their way to try to get the voters to approve more taxes for the sake of the schools. Yet, I still come back to the fact that most schools have too many administrators and if they need to cut back, why not do it there. Instead, the parent volunteers, those who are willing to give freely of their time, are now asked to pay a $20 fee to come help out at the school. So how do you feel about paying to volunteer?

1 comment:

  1. What a great way to attract good volunteers! First, you have to pay for the privelege of donating your time and skills that we would otherwise have to pay much more for in a part time employee...
    Second, In order to protect our children from the predators out there, you have to pay us to prove that you aren't one.
    Third, It appears that they really would rather not have to deal with volunteers, and this way they can thin the ranks.
    Lastly, isn't this a little like punishing the whole class for the actions of one child when they misbehave?