Human beings naturally fall into ruts. We’re creatures of habit. So it’s our nature to say, “We’ve always done it that way.”

    Anyone who utters that phrase should probably take a moment to reflect. It’s a sign of fear of change and the inability to be flexible and grow.

    So it is with a cadre of basketball players, coaches and parents who became accustomed over time to using the elementary gymnasiums around the Valley without accountability. When we state “without accountability” we mean leaving the facilities dirty, using all the paper products, trash in the bleachers, bathrooms and common areas.

    By trash we mean food wrappers, used diapers, miniature liquor bottles and needles. Why people would expect the Española School District to pay staff to clean up after them free of charge goes to a learned entitled mentality.

    Because of that comfortable habit of getting something for nothing, without taking responsibility, they feel they’re owed free use of District facilities.

    Along with the abuse of the District’s gymnasiums came the discovery that many people had keys to gyms, most of whom were not known to the District officials responsible for the facilities. In short, keys were being made and shared, with impunity.

    When the state Public Education Department took over the District’s finances, everything changed. Not only were finances, budgets and purchasing practices eyed and revised, policies and procedures were reviewed and found lacking.

    For the District to regain control of its finances, one of the things on the list was update its policies and procedures. Since there was no policy regarding the continued free use of District gymnasiums, one had to be created. During that process was the discussion of free use of the facilities and no group taking responsibility for their free rentals.

    With the help of legal, documents were drawn that explain responsibilities on each side and what is needed and expected of groups using District facilities. No one was happy. Accusations flew.

    No one on the School Board is out to get anyone. No one is picking on anyone. Most importantly, people who abused these facilities need to know no favor from a Board member will get them a key to a gym, much less free use.

    At the March 17 School Board meeting several Board members and staff from different departments shared name-calling incidents and outright threats. Instead of blaming people who work for the District, how about taking some responsibility?

    We all want the District to succeed. We want it to regain financial control, grow education programs, raise test scores and graduate more seniors. Way down that list of educational desires is a free gym for a group of entitled people.

    All groups must follow the new policies and procedures. There’s no free lunch to be had here.

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