I’ve been at my current school for two years now. Two years. Where on earth has the time gone?
It’s not been without its challenges, but one of the biggest challenges has been water.
Yes. When I took over from my predecessor she had spent more than two years querying our water bills. We owed thousands and thousands of pounds and they could not be right. I picked up the baton from her and ran with it. Quite frankly over the last few months dealing with four different water companies at one point it felt like a swimming relay and I was drowning! Finally, about this time last year it was agreed that yes, the giant bullrush laden pond at the far end of the car park WAS a leak and the LA instructed contractors to start the work.
Months, months and months passed as holes were dug, inspected, then the next stage would happen. Finally in August after numerous trench inspections, meter inspections and fevered brows we had a new mains, new meters and I came back into school feeling SO proud that it was finally done.
Oh how wrong I was!
The first day of term John (my Headteacher) and I walked down to the ‘pond’ to see how it was doing. It was dry. Completely dry. Again, smiles all round, we finally cracked this. Back to my desk I contacted the two remaining water companies and agreed with them that if I took meter readings at the beginning of October they would historically adjust bills and we would pay what was rightfully owed.
The boiler pump blew a couple of days in. Contractors cam out and fixed it.
Two weeks later it happened again.
This week it happened again.
As the hot pipes went cold, water leaks appeared in the ceiling, through the tiles.
The lovely new water main that I was SO proud of was pushing water through the system at such pressure, and it wasn’t used to it, it was breaking the water system INSIDE the school.
That same day I had been dangling over a manhole taking photos of the meter readings because the water company said they can’t be right.
When will this ever end?!
Wednesday the difficult decision to close the school for two days was made to give contractors time and space to get remedial works done. The water company got in touch and asked if we had new meters because unbelievably the water company that installed them hadn’t advised them of this.
Months go by and still it isn’t sorted out, I’m thinking of adding ‘the sorting out of water related queries and problems’ to my job description!
What became apparent yesterday though (when a comment that was relayed to me, questioning my need to be in school when it was closed due to contractors being on site), and how still some people do not understand the far reaching role of the school business leader.
I don’t just do money.
I have a responsibility for money, for the admin team, the kitchen team and the site team.
The site team are majorly affected by the works this week. Our site manager has to be in to let them on site and remain until they leave. Our Headteacher has been liaising with the LA over the closure. My role is to support both of them and its better to do that on site. Whilst I’m not wielding spanners or suchlike I’m a listening ear, able to text parents and staff with updates when necessary, a sounding board for frustrations to be aired and a tea and coffee maker if necessary. Today I will be a doughnut deliverer. I can support the site manager and Headteacher in discussions with contractors to try and make sure we can be open again as soon as possible. I can also catch up with tons of work that I haven’t been able to get round to doing on a normal day!
We don’t just do money. Our responsibilities are wide ranging and far reaching, that’s why it is such an interesting job!