GUSD seeks coordinator

Taking a cue from the City of Gilroy, the school district is looking into a position to help make volunteering easier.
At a joint City Council and Gilroy Unified School Board meeting, members of both bodies discussed the idea of having a volunteer coordinator for the school district, a position the city established about five years ago.
“There are people out there that would love to volunteer,” said Trustee Patricia Blomquist. “They get to have a good time. They get to feel good about themselves.”
The volunteer coordinator would make it easier for those who want to
volunteer to do so by heirs the contact person tortem to bind a p ace
for them to offer their time.
“A lot of people want to help, but they don’t know how,” said City Councilman Tom Springer.
For the most part, volunteering is left up to the individual teachers to coordinate, according to El Roble School principal Martha Martinez, who thinks having a coordinator is a good idea to help assign volunteers to activities they would be comfortable doing and within their available time.
“I think it would be great,” she said.”It’s one more positive adult role model for our student.”
. Volunteers are needed mostly in the classroom to assist teachers, Martinez said, but they are sometimes used to help with other activities, such as tutoring students in reading or assisting with lunchtime tournaments, for example.
Blomquist hopes with the program that potential volunteers could receive some prepatory training so the teacher would not have to spend time doing that.
Sandra Sammut holds the position at the city, and coordinates more than 300 volunteers, interviewing them and finding places where they are needed.
• Having one person to coordinate volunteers ensures that the volunteers’ services get used.
“There’s a central location now,” Sammut said. “There’s a place, and a person to talk to. Unfortunately, sometimes a person has all the enthusiasm of volunteering, but they’re put on hold or bounced from person to person, and they lose that momentum.”
School Board President Jane Howard envisions the coordinator post beginning as a halftime position, staffed by a volunteer who would he at the district office from 8 a.m. to noon, five days a week, for example.
“My whole idea is to have a volunteer because we obviously have our financial constraints, she said.
Volunteers are needed for a number of duties, including reading to students, and at all the schools, although some may need volunteers more than others.
“There are certain schools that have a pretty strong parent base,” Howard said. “I know at the high school, there would be a tremendous need there.”
Sammut’s is a paid position and takes tip 50 percent of her time. The other part of her time is spent as a recreation supervisor for the city. The City of Gilroy received a three-year grant for a total of $40,000 from the Packard Foundation to fund the program, and the grant runs out in September.
The city contributes $3,000 a year to the program, most of which is used for volunteer recognition, special events, workshops and training, Sammut said.
Placing volunteers is also important, and Sammut contacts the departments that a volunteer has an interested in working in to find out if there are any opportunities. She also has a group of representatives from every department that meets monthly and promotes the volunteer program within their departments.
Volunteers are doing all kinds Of jobs at’ the city, from filing to creek clean-up, Sam-mut said.
School board members expressed concern about the employees’ unions reaction to the position, but with proper presentation of the position, it should go smoothly, according to City Administrator Jay Baksa.
“You have to educate your people that they’re value-added,” he said. “You’re not trying to take anything _ you’re trying to make their Job easier. Then have a success.’
The success part Is key to getting people thinking about where they, could use volunteers, according to Sammut.
“All it took was a couple of good people, and it kind of spreads,” site said. “Once they do hear of somebody else that does (have a volunteer helping them), word of mouth is the best thing around here to promote the volunteer program. “School board members plan to discuss the matter at their next meeting, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the district office, 7810 Arroyo Circle.

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