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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 3, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSenator Finds Funds to Pay YRC Kids to Fix Schools

Senator Finds Funds to Pay YRC Kids to Fix Schools

Using money scraped from his Legislature staffing allotment, Sen. Wayne James is trying something new; he’s hired 20 young men and women incarcerated at the St. Croix Youth Rehabilitation Center to work for two weeks on maintenance projects at St. Croix’s public schools.
In a sense, the idea is an extension of the Legislature’s annual summer hire-a-youth program, in which each senator has an allotment to hire students on summer break to work on school maintenance, landscaping and a variety of other work in several departments. Over the summer, James hired 52 students, of whom 15 worked on school maintenance, he said Wednesday.
But with the 28th Legislature’s summer hire a youth program recently over, the schools can still use some help, and the young miscreants at YRC need every bit of help available, James said.
"The whole point of YRC is rehabilitation and if we are going to do that, these are the sorts of things we need to be doing," James said. "The children at YRC would benefit tremendously from the experience of gainful employment. The opportunity, I am sure, will give them an increased sense of discipline, fiscal responsibility and pride, skills and attributes which will serve them well in life."
The crews will be supervised by adults in the Education Department’s maintenance and plant operations division. From September 15 to 25, they will work on landscaping, painting, carpentry, plumbing, cleaning and electrical work, depending on their interests and abilities.
"This is the first time we’ve done something like this with YRC," said Robert Burke, plant facilities coordinator for St. Croix public schools, who will oversee the students. "I’m glad he had this idea."
Burke said the first couple of days will be devoted to teaching workplace health and safety rules, how to use tools properly and safely, and then the students will work with him and other plant facilities workers on the projects various schools need done. Some may work in school offices too, he said.
"This will get these students out of YRC and doing useful work, getting their minds off their problems," Burke said. "We will try to give them a direction they can choose for their lives, and this will prepare them for everyday work, how to be responsible, how to be respectful to themselves and others."
Earning $7.25 per hour, the students can each make as much as $580 if they work the full two-week period. The money will be deposited into individual bank accounts by YRC officials and the students get the money once they are released.
Working on the schools will help the students value and take pride in the schools while teaching them work skills and letting them earn money, James hopes.
This first two-week trial is being coordinated through James’ office, Burke and others in Education and the Department of Human Resources. If all goes well, James said he wants to try to find a way to fund and extend it further.
James said the goal is to try creative solutions to several problems at once, helping the students and the schools.
"Every little bit helps," he said. "We are in a ‘guava crop,’ as the older generation would say; and ‘one-one guava," we will address the school maintenance issues of the territory.

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Using money scraped from his Legislature staffing allotment, Sen. Wayne James is trying something new; he's hired 20 young men and women incarcerated at the St. Croix Youth Rehabilitation Center to work for two weeks on maintenance projects at St. Croix's public schools.
In a sense, the idea is an extension of the Legislature's annual summer hire-a-youth program, in which each senator has an allotment to hire students on summer break to work on school maintenance, landscaping and a variety of other work in several departments. Over the summer, James hired 52 students, of whom 15 worked on school maintenance, he said Wednesday.
But with the 28th Legislature's summer hire a youth program recently over, the schools can still use some help, and the young miscreants at YRC need every bit of help available, James said.
"The whole point of YRC is rehabilitation and if we are going to do that, these are the sorts of things we need to be doing," James said. "The children at YRC would benefit tremendously from the experience of gainful employment. The opportunity, I am sure, will give them an increased sense of discipline, fiscal responsibility and pride, skills and attributes which will serve them well in life."
The crews will be supervised by adults in the Education Department's maintenance and plant operations division. From September 15 to 25, they will work on landscaping, painting, carpentry, plumbing, cleaning and electrical work, depending on their interests and abilities.
"This is the first time we've done something like this with YRC," said Robert Burke, plant facilities coordinator for St. Croix public schools, who will oversee the students. "I'm glad he had this idea."
Burke said the first couple of days will be devoted to teaching workplace health and safety rules, how to use tools properly and safely, and then the students will work with him and other plant facilities workers on the projects various schools need done. Some may work in school offices too, he said.
"This will get these students out of YRC and doing useful work, getting their minds off their problems," Burke said. "We will try to give them a direction they can choose for their lives, and this will prepare them for everyday work, how to be responsible, how to be respectful to themselves and others."
Earning $7.25 per hour, the students can each make as much as $580 if they work the full two-week period. The money will be deposited into individual bank accounts by YRC officials and the students get the money once they are released.
Working on the schools will help the students value and take pride in the schools while teaching them work skills and letting them earn money, James hopes.
This first two-week trial is being coordinated through James' office, Burke and others in Education and the Department of Human Resources. If all goes well, James said he wants to try to find a way to fund and extend it further.
James said the goal is to try creative solutions to several problems at once, helping the students and the schools.
"Every little bit helps," he said. "We are in a 'guava crop,' as the older generation would say; and 'one-one guava," we will address the school maintenance issues of the territory.