At least 100 volunteers showed up at schools across the West Ada School District on Saturday to mow, prune, weed and otherwise prepare the grounds for the first day of school. The effort was part of West Ada’s community cleanup event, organized by the district to help make up for its understaffed groundskeeping crew.
West Ada is Idaho’s largest school district with 58 schools and at least 40,000 students, but it employs only eight groundskeepers districtwide. With such significant understaffing, district superintendent Derek Bub enlisted community members to help pick up the slack through the community cleanup event.
“They’re working their tails off, doing the best they can, but they need help,” said Bub of the district’s eight-person grounds crew. “It really does take a village to make a school open up in a smooth fashion.”
The superintendent volunteered at Mountain View High School during Saturday’s event alongside parents, administrators, and students, including the school’s incoming student body president, Camden Hyde.
“I love Mountain View, and I love West Ada,” said Hyde. “This is my school and I think making it look nice for myself as well as others is really important.” Hyde also recruited students from student council and the school’s National Honor Society to volunteer at the event.
At Meridian High School, David Stay volunteered alongside his kids and their grandparents, who were visiting Idaho from Salem, Utah. The family said they were trying to help as many West Ada schools as they could. They started at Renaissance High School and planned to finish at Barbara Morgan Elementary.
“We feel it’s important to support public schools and be a part of the community,” said Stay.
Lisa Jensen was one of another 20 volunteers at Lewis and Clark Middle School. She said she believes it’s the community’s responsibility to care for their school just as they would care for their own homes.
“This is a massive facility, and you only have so much of a budget,” Jensen said. “That leaves volunteers. That’s how things get done.”
Dozens more cleaned the parking lot at Renaissance High, including the school’s music coach Andrew Peck. He said he believed the community effort was a positive investment in the school.
“It’s a good thing that staff and community and families and admin get together and put in a little spit and sweat for the school,” said Peck. “Education is the backbone of our society, I believe that 100 percent. Families and communities need to invest in education and I think a lot of the misconceptions about what education is and isn’t come from people that aren’t here today.”
Peck’s wife Kamille works at McMillan Elementary, another West Ada school. She spent part of the morning there and headed to Renaissance after the work was finished.
“It is super cool to see the community come together and take care of our buildings and invest,” she said. “Investment from the community is really important to our schools, especially right now.”
West Ada is looking to fill openings on its groundskeeping crew. More information can be found on the district’s hiring website.