LOS FELIZ — While the staff of King Middle School has focused on improving performance in the classroom, a group of parents have decided that another part of the school needed some improvement – the bathrooms.
On every Wednesday since the start of the school year, a small group of parents equipped with gloves, brushes, brooms and other cleaning supplies descend on the school on the border of Los Feliz and Silver Lake to clean up bathrooms and other areas while educating its approximately 1,500 students on how to keep their campus clean.
“We want to bring back a sense of pride and community that will build morale and help the students,” said Renae Plant, who organized the cleans up as part of her work on the school’s beautification committee.
After hearing many concerns and complaints from students and their parents about how dirty the bathrooms were, Plant, whose daughter attends King, took matters into her own hands by organizing the Wednesday cleans up between 10 a.m. and 1 pm.
The parents’ volunteer labor supplement’s the schools budget for custodial services, which at King totals approximately $374,000, or 5.22% of Kings budget for 2014 – 2015, according to a KPCC analysis of individual school budgets. Plant believes the money being spent on keeping the campus clean
is not sufficient, mentioning the complaints she has heard of the bathrooms “stinking” and the lack of custodians.
Mark Naulls, principal at King Middle School, said its been struggling with its facilities budget for the past several years. But he noted that funding is being slowly being restored to pre-recession levels. “The parents have helped give a boost to the cleaning services here because they want the teachers and staff to focus on teaching. We’ve really enjoyed working in partnership with them,” said Naulls.
Academic performance at King has improved over the past decade and the school became an all-magnet campus in 2013. But Plant, who is owner of Camelot Kids preschool in Silver Lake and is a member of the Friends of King school support group, has seen many of the parents who enroll their kids at the local elementary schools question whether their children should attend King, with many opting to enroll their children at private schools instead. Clean bathrooms – and a campus – would be a selling point to win over new parents.
“It is better to be proactive instead of complaining,” said Plant. “The school has become one of the highest ranking middle schools in L.A. Unified and we wanted those changes to reflect on the outside as well.”
Lucy Guanuna has reported on a variety of issues, including business, education and social justice movements in her native Los Angeles. Her work has been published in the Daily Sundial, L.A. Activist, and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.