City school snags $26,000 arts grant

By Ryan Lengerich

Tucumcari public schools received more than $26,000 in grants from the New Mexico State Department of Education on Aug. 13 to benefit elementary arts education for the upcoming school year.

The grant was part of the Supplemental General Appropriations Act of 2003 in which elementary art, music, theater and dance education were added to the public schools funding formula.

Tucumcari elementary officials submitted detailed plans and budgets prior to receiving the grant.

Teresa Salazar, principal at Tucumcari Elementary was involved with developing the necessary application. She said $10,000 will be directed to the music department for the purchasing of instruments, and $8,000 will go toward professional development of current staff. The remaining money will be for supplies and other art needs.

She said Tucumcari public school district has shown strong support for arts education in past years, and believes in its impact.

“Studies show that fine arts have major impacts on other aspects, whether it be math or reading or any other subject matter,” Salazar said. “It encompasses everything so we want to teach the proper curriculum using those things.”

She said the elementary school music teacher has constantly moved rooms throughout the past 10 years. This grant will assist in creating a music classroom and improving technology.

“She’s got a digital piano, bulletin board, dry erase board, and a great stereo system,” Salazar said. “She has all the things she needs to make her job easier.”

Salazar said students will see the effects of this grant immediately, and next year the state could appropriate twice as much money for arts education.

Currently visual arts have been up to the classroom teachers. Salazar said this money combined with future grants will allow the elementary school to hire a full time art teacher.