Feel free to mow the weeds
It's official -- Portland schools superintendent Vicki Phillips (who lives in a nice, normal Northeast Portland house, by the way, not a mansion) has given us all permission to mow the chest-high grass and weeds currently growing on school grounds all over town. But don't use herbicide, Super Vicki says. That's taboo around where the kiddies play.
Guess the clover's going to win, then. Anyway, here's the announcement that went out this afternoon:
To our Portland Public Schools friends and neighbors,
If you've passed a school recently, you may have noticed that our grass is awfully long and the weeds are thriving. With all the cool and wet weather we've had this year, growing conditions have been perfect, and our school grounds are looking awfully shaggy.
We're gearing up to take back our lawns * and we would love to have your help.
Over the last decade, Portland Public Schools has cut our maintenance costs to less than the state average, so that we can put every dollar possible into the classrooms. We now have only two year-round groundskeepers to maintain the lawns, trees and plantings on 753 acres at close to 100 locations. In the summer we hire additional seasonal groundskeepers.
Given current conditions, I have asked our maintenance staff to add two additional groundskeepers for the rest of the summer, and we will purchase another lawnmower. But even with the extra help, we can use some help from all of you in the community.
If you would like to take an hour or two to clean up your neighborhood school, please do! Pull some weeds in the beds, or mow the grass. We'll still swing by for our maintenance, but help from the community would give us a real head start on the backlog.
Individuals can just get out there and help. But if you'd like to organize a group effort, call Stacey Balenger, at 503-916-3401, who can help coordinate. Should you choose to help, please follow Portland Public Schools policy by not using pesticides or herbicides (we used to use well over 7,000 pounds of herbicide a year; now we use next to none). And please, don't tackle any major projects, such as pruning, without checking with Stacey.
Of course, we urge the utmost caution as you volunteer, as the school district can't be responsible for any accidents and we definitely don't want anyone to get hurt.
You are also invited to participate in our special effort to spruce things up for the state of the school year: Community Care Day. This fifth annual event will be on Saturday, August 27.
On Community Care Day, Portland area faith- and community-based organizations, along with business partners, clean up our local schools. A morning's worth of effort shows students that adults care about them, and helps them start school in an environment that shows community pride in their learning. We thank our sponsors, including Best Buy Landscape, Thriftway, Qmedtrix, the Palau Organization and others for their help. (Community Care Day, a Portland Public Schools innovation, has won national recognition, and now takes place in Beaverton and Hillsboro school districts, too.)
Already, more than 60 sites have been confirmed for this year's Community Care Day. If you are interested in participating, please call Kathy Birch at 503-916-3310.
I know many of you, like me, are frustrated when we see shaggy lawns and sprouting weeds. Together, let's do something about it.