Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Beautiful Mural


I've always had this dream that somehow our school could be make more beautiful. I've envisioned a mural of some sort, to bring color to the industrial off-white/off-yellow/beige-ish color of the school (why don't districts pain elementary schools in bright primary colors? Of all the buildings to be a neutral color, elementary schools should not be the ones). I've gone to paint stores to ask about extra paint, and discovered that, at least at the place I went to, they mix all the leftovers together, creating a pukey mud color.

Last year, my dream was realized. The principal at the time - we'll call her "Seems Great Then Totally Flakes Out Administrator" was totally on board with the idea, and I just happened to have a friend - Robin the Artist - who was both unemployed and trying to raise money for a missions trip. The principal said we had the money, said she loved the idea, that the school would reimburse for the paint and pay Robin $1500 for the mural. She loved the mural, so much that she offered Robin an additional $500 to make a bulletin board. ($500 is a lot for a bulletin board, but when one is trying to raise money, one does not tend to argue these points!)

So, the school got this beautiful mural that you see here, and Robin got her money - all is right with the world. Right?

Not quite.

Robin knew that it might take a while for the district to pay her, so she would email me occasionally from overseas to see how it was coming. I, in turn, would go to the office and bother them. First, the issue was that she didn't answer some questions about what the purpose of this independent contract was. Then there was some other thing to answer. She passed the answers on to me and I filled them out - it worked out OK, because she had already signed everything before she left.

When Robin got back, 8 months later, she still hadn't been paid. She asked at my school - now with a different principal - and was told to go "downtown" to district headquarters and ask. When she got downtown, she found out that the paperwork was never turned in. Well, either that, or the district had managed to lose it, which happens a LOT.

Now she had to explain this to a different principal, who had not approved the project, and didn't have the money in his budget. The original principal ("Seems Good...") was strategically not answering any of her email, and therefore avoiding this topic. In fact, I don't think she's answered any of of the emails from Robin or me to this date.

It is still pending, over a year since Robin did the mural (I think about 15 or 16 months later), and no one in the district has been very helpful. Finally, somehow, the check is supposed to be in the mail. At least a check for the first $1500. For some reason, the additional $500 is proving even more elusive.

If Robin doesn't get paid soon, I say she goes to the news reporters. This district really can't afford any more bad press. But, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

1 comment:

LindsayDayton said...

You know what's absolutely amazing about this? I experienced the exact same thing!!

As the supervisor of the conflict manager program at my school, I got a budget from the principal for t-shirts the conflict managers could wear on the playground to distinguish them from the other kids. My friend Katie is a graphic designer and t-shirt screenprinter, so she designed and created $350 worth of really really beautiful shirts for my kids.

This was school year '03-'04.

Last month, I was having dinner at one of my favorite East Bay restaurants, and Katie was our server. She asked if I might be able to help her because she still hasn't been able to get reimbursed for the shirts!!

It was the same story--turnover in administration, budget year blah blah blah, talk to the district.

It's just embarrassing.