Wednesday, July 8, 2009

If You Build it They Will Learn

This summer I am working for Pacific Charter School Development (PCSD) through a fellowship with Education Pioneers. The Education Pioneers fellowship program extends nationwide to cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles among others. I was fortunate enough to receive an offer to be a fellow in the Los Angeles cohort. As a fellow, I was matched up with an Education Pioneers corporate partner, which turned out to be PCSD. My background in real estate development and interning a number of summers in the Chicago Public School system has made the PCSD match a great marriage of my past work experiences. PCSD is a non-profit real estate developer that builds and manages high quality charter schools. In Los Angeles, PCSD mainly works with charter management organizations (CMO) that include KIPP, Green Dot, PUC, Alliance, ICEF, and Aspire.

As an intern with PCSD, I have been working with a project manager that manages construction for Green Dot Charter Schools. We are currently working on a high school that will seat 560 students in South Central Los Angeles. The school is scheduled to open this September, 2009. The school site is adjacent to the 70 acre Earvin "Magic" Johnson Recreation Area in South Central Los Angeles. The permanent home to Green Dot’s Animo Watts II, the school overlooks the pond situated in the park.

Thus far my job has consisted of a number of tasks that are essential in terms of ensuring the school starts on time. This is of even greater importance for charter schools as their funding is reliant on having the schools open by a certain date. Up to this point, I’ve worked on invoices and budgeting, helping to get approved street light improvement plans to Edison utilities, and drafting a request for architectural qualifications from firms that are interested in building schools for PCSD. I’ve also had the chance to sit in on weekly on-site construction meetings related to the Green Dot School we’re building. Although I’ve only been at PCSD for a few weeks, I’ve already learned a great deal about being a project manager for the organization. It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to shepherd a project from its beginning acquisition phase to the actual build out of the school. As the summer moves ahead, I’m looking forward to helping create a school that will be a great home to almost 600 students. There are only a few months to go until I hopefully get the opportunity to celebrate in the unveiling. As the summer moves forward, I’ll blog a couple more times to keep everyone up-to-date on the progress. That way, anyone reading can follow the accomplishments that lead up to building great schools for urban children.

1 comment:

  1. What an exciting project! In the larger picture of the critical charter school movement, we often forget all that goes into the programs. Construction management and finance are not usually the first things to come to mind when you think of fixing the school system. But when you talk about it, it seems so obvious. This is a great example of using your education and expertise to save the world!