An agreement finalized last week between two major community entities has ushered in a new era of partnership. That is how Mayor Wayne Riddle and DPISD Superintendent Dr. Arnold Adair describe items on their respective agendas that will allow each entity to use each other's facilities free-of-charge.
The Deer Park ISD Board of Trustees voted on the agreement Monday at their meeting while City Council did so Tuesday. Both items passed unanimously and the agreement is effective immediately.
Previously, DPISD and the City charged each other for using facilities. The school district charged the city for use of Clyde Abshier Stadium for TIFI-league football games and for Gaines Mason Auditorium for recitals. The city charged DPISD for the DPHS golf team's use of the Battleground at Deer Park Golf Course.
"What it came down to is we were charging each other for facilities. What we were charging them was about what they were charging us," said Riddle. "It's an even swap. It's a new, good working relationship with our schools." He estimated the city spent $50,000 per year on renting DPISD facilities and that the school district spent close to that amount in city fees.
Riddle said the only time the city would have to pay DPISD for facilities is if school personnel are needed to open and maintain the facility, such as weekend events.
"It makes us both more efficient," said Adair. "We don't have to use accounts payable and receivable from both sides. It makes a lot of sense for both of us."
Adair said DPISD and the city now have the opportunity to do more with each other and for their taxpayers.
"We are using the same taxpayer base," he said. "Their taxpayers are our taxpayers. It's a new change perspective. Yes, school taxes go to the schools and city taxes go to the city, but they are coming from the same people."
"You have to ask 'what is the most efficient way to do things using taxpayer money?' This is exciting for both sides," he said.
"We have common goals and problems, so it was ideal for us to come into partnership with the district," Riddle said.
The agreement is effective through July of 2013. At that time, both the city and schools will reevaluate the agreement and make adjustments as necessary. However, Riddle said that he foresees a long-term partnership with DPISD.
City councilman Jerry Mouton and DPISD Board member Ryan Taylor were commended by both the district and Riddle for bringing both sides to the table for the agreement.
"It's important that we have a good relationship and we needed to have a better relationship," Riddle said. "This is a big, big step in that direction."