Jamaican Executive Says Schools Can Become Far More Efficient

KINGSTON, Jamaica – School boards should maximise school assets to raise the income they need to operate an efficient education plant, Insurance Executive and Chairman of the Board of Jamaica College, R. Danny Williams, said, recently, asserting that, “Some schools have resources that, if fully utilised, could shore-up shortfalls from tuition
and subventions.”

He was addressing board chairpersons, board members and principals of the six rural-based high schools participating in The Victoria Mutual Building Society and the Jamaica National Building Society, sponsored Centres of Excellence programme, at a workshop held at the Coutleigh Hotel recently.

The schools, McGrath, Porus, Mile Gully, Seaforth, Green Pond and Godfrey Stewart, are being upgraded under the $100 million Centres of Excellence programme being managed by the Mutual Building Societies Foundation which the building societies established.

“There are these resources in the schools, such as the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), past students, and a canteen, which can earn you money,” he advised. And, he pointed out that every school had physical facilities that can be maximised, to facilitate extension classes and courses during the summer and other holiday periods; and, therefore, should be fully utilised throughout the year.

“This is what we set out to do at Jamaica College,” he declared, explaining how JC used its assets, such as the football field, by renting it to persons and entities to generate additional income.

“We started to look at all the income generating opportunities to maximize on all the facilities, and looked for income potential, because one of the biggest problems is finding the money to do what you need to do. And, therefore, you have to look at what you can do with the canteen, or how to rent the facilities or run special courses or summer schools” he stated. He noted for example schools could establish a concession arrangement with an business entity preferred by students. He said such an arrangement may be significantly more beneficial to a school than one run by the school itself.

Llewelyn Bailey, Assistant General Manager, Jamaica National Building Society, shares a copy of the Mutual Building Societies Foundation newsletter, ‘The Achievers’, with R. Danny Williams, Chairman of the Board of Jamaica College. Also making a point about the document is Dr. Renee Rattray, Programme Manager of the MBSF.

Mr. Williams pointed out that that boards could also consider establishing properly-run foundations that stakeholders, well wishers, past students, members of the community and others can make contributions to as it provides a pool of tax-free funds that the school may draw on to carry out various projects, based on its own preferences.

And, he also urged boards to, “simply network, and to ask for money, particularly from people who have benefited from the school.”
“If you ask people for money they will give you money. We received donations from people, who have not been back to Jamaica College from the day they left school,” the Board Chairman said, adding that boards should also invite good business people with relevant competences, within the community to sit on the board, or otherwise contribute to the school.

R. Danny Williams, Chairman of the Board of Jamaica College, listens closely to Dr. Renee Rattray, Programme Manager at the Mutual Building Societies Foundation, as she makes a point. Mr. Williams was guest speaker at a workshop hosted by the MBSF for board chairmen, board members and principals of six rural high schools under the MBSF’s Centres of Excellence programme at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston recently.

“Very often the community owns the school and very often you are not getting much support from the community because you don’t go and sit down with the merchant and show them: ‘This is what I need.’ If you can engage them, you can make up for what is a lack of a past students association,” he advised the representatives of the six MBSF project schools.

Mr. Williams further illustrated that by implementing some of these initiatives, Jamaica College was able to raise enough funds to complete 85 percent of the school’s major infrastructural projects, including the building of an auditorium; mend the perimeter fencing; repair roofs and refurbish sporting facilities; as well as, to modernise the computer labs. JC has also put incentive programmes in place for teachers from these funds.

“So by employing these measures, we have been able to motivate our teachers; and we have done what we can to upgrade the physical and social aspects of the school, and bring it into the new world,” the JC Chairman said.

The MBSF’s Centre of Excellence project, which is in its third year, is seeking to upgrade the administrative and educational programmes at the six rural high schools, in concert with the government’s Education Transformation Programme. The programme will end in 2012.

Dr. Renee Rattray (centre), Programme Manager at the Mutual Building Societies Foundation, makes a point during a discussion with Radley Reid (left), former Principal of Campion College and R. Danny Williams, Chairman of the Board of Jamaica College.

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