By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS
Money was a hot topic between Tucumcari’s City Commission and the Board of Education at their special meeting on Thursday.
The meeting, which Mayor Mary Mayfield said was called for the purpose of “what I hope is the continuation of a working relationship,” also included talks about preparing a city street for students to paint at graduation, how the liaison between the schools and city has been a beneficial one and the possibility of a swimming pool in Tucumcari.
All roads led back to money.
“The city has better access to capital funds,” said Board of Education Vice President Albert Mitchell Jr., explaining how the school can’t get money from the state for specific projects unless strings are attached.
“They take it away from other funds that have no strings,” Mitchell said, “which cuts down on the ability for the school board to lobby.”
School officials also bemoaned the state of their buildings. “Most of our facilities are older than most people at this table,” Mitchell said to a slate of attendees who included 89-year-old City Commissioner Bettie Ditto.
Sharing facilities was another major topic that hit the table.
While officials said the school facilities — including the football field and gym — are used by the city and city facilities — including the convention center and golf course — may be used by the schools, they said numbers were never crunched to see if everyone was breaking even.
School officials said they lose money every time there’s a football game or extended use of the gym, thanks to utility costs.
The issue was left to future discussion when the exact numbers may be reviewed.
The city also took the opportunity to ask if the school board would like to take over the recreation program, adding the annual $150,000 for that purpose would be siphoned from the city to the school budget.
The school board declined.
“Every time somebody wants something they go to the school,” said schools Superintendent William Reents.
Another topic on recreation was brought up when Mayfield mentioned the future possibility of a much-needed swimming pool in town, and how it may be an option if the costs were shared by the city and the schools.
That way, she said, students could include a swimming program on their agendas and the city could have use of the pool at other times.
Again, this topic was left for future discussion.
The meeting adjourned with an agreement that the entities would continue to work together and any problems could be ironed out.
Mitchell said the city’s involvement with the schools has been a good thing, especially for the state of the schools when faced with families who were being recruited into the area.
“We (used to have) wives and children crying when they drove by the school system,” Mitchell said.