Schools and county agree to agree

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By The Staff

Talk of strained relations between the schools and county over Trinity Site negotiations appeared to settle down during a school board meeting Thursday evening at Chamisa Elementary School.

“I think the county and schools are very much in alignment on all business points … and some people’s perception of things is not correct at all,” County Administrator Max Baker said.

Board member Alison Beckman responded to Baker saying she’s been involved in the project since the beginning.

“I feel the county council is working with us but I have to state that the last round of documents that came to us were really different and they started to stray from our original intent,” she said, adding for that reason she feels a resolution detailing the school’s business points is important.

Rumblings of a rift between the entities surfaced at a school board meeting earlier this month. Beckman said at that meeting that she wanted to stop reading the latest county documents on the project because they were not in keeping with the original intent.

After other board members expressed concern, the board decided to call a joint meeting with county council. That meeting was scaled back to a couple of representatives from each side and took place Feb. 16.

There appeared to be some “next-step” confusion following that meeting attended by School Board President Steve Girrens, Vice President Joan Ahlers, Assistant County Administrator Tony Mortillaro, County Council Chair Mike Wheeler and County Council Vice Chair Mike Wismer.    

“The meeting went well,” Girrens said. “One of the outcomes was we were going to put together our business points.”

The board created a one-page resolution with its business points for Thursday’s meeting. Baker thought the board and county would create the document together.

“Perhaps I’m a little confused, I understood we would agree on the historical business points,” he said.

Ahlers told Baker and Wismer why the board created the resolution. “Part of this was to let the county know what we are thinking,” she said.

Girrens added, “If you read this – the major intention is to confirm our partnership.”

Wismer had a different understanding of the marching orders from the Feb. 16 meeting as well.

“I walked away from the meeting thinking we would jointly publish mutually agreed upon business points,” Wismer said. “I’d like to ask on behalf of the council that we be given the opportunity to have mutually agreed upon business points and ask that we issue a joint resolution.”

The board agreed to table its resolution and develop a joint document with the county.

“This (Trinity Site Project) has been on the agenda all four years I’ve been on the board,” Girrens said. “It’s a big deal for the schools and it’s a big deal for the county and it’s a big deal for the community - so let’s get it right – but let’s keep the train on track.”  

A wrap up of other issues discussed at Thursday’s meeting including the superintendent’s search, the district’s annual audit and the use of Sullivan Field will be detailed in a story in the Monitor Sunday.