NORTHRIDGE : 2 Women Paint School Interior by Themselves

When they signed up for the School Beautiful Committee at Castlebay Lane Elementary School last spring, Jackie Schulz and Sandy Smith didn't know they'd be the only members.

They also didn't know they would paint the entire interior of the school by themselves.

But the two women, who have five children attending the Northridge school, have spent afternoons, evenings and weekends for the past three months covering dingy walls in the hallways and classrooms in pastel colors and stenciling flowers, dolphins and teddy bears over the windows and doors.

Driven by a belief that well-maintained classrooms lead students and teachers to have better attitudes about school, the two say they don't mind painting alone.

"I enjoy doing it," said Smith. "It makes my kids proud. My dad was a Jack-of-all-trades and I'm just a real do-it-yourselfer anyway."

Smith and Schulz started the project by painting the teachers' room to brighten spirits dimmed by pay cuts. They plan to finish the interior of the school by December and start on the outside, where they have already planted two sod lawns.

"It's boosted morale for all of us," said Peggy Fitzgerald, a fourth-grade teacher. "It's really amazing."

The Los Angeles Unified School District no longer has the money to paint school interiors, a spokeswoman said.

"It would be nice if we had the money to paint, but we just don't," said Julie Crum, deputy director of maintenance for the district. "In the whole scheme of things interior paint is less of a priority than leaky roofs and pipes."

With no money from the district, parents are left to face the task on their own.

"I like to contribute--to do something for the schools," Schulz said. "I do it for the kids."

Several more parents have joined Smith and Schulz on the committee and plan to help out this year, but the two still paint by themselves.

"Sometimes you feel like you're out there alone," Smith said. "People are willing to give money but nobody wants to help. I guess everybody has different priorities."

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