New Mexico Christian Academy struggles to stay open

Mike Linn

Christy Fields has been attending New Mexico Christian Academy for eight years, built strong relationships with friends she doesn’t want to see diminish if the school if forced to close for financial reasons.
The 15-year-old Portales resident has Wigner’s Disease, which weakens the immune system, preventing her from attending a larger school, family members said, and the only other option would be home schooling.
“I would be very sad if they shut down next year,” Fields said. “You can make really close friends there, it’s like family.”
The academy’s finances have dwindled considerably in recent years, prompting school officials to pinch pennies and seek alternative revenues in the hopes of keeping the school afloat.
“We were breaking even and 9/11 hit, and then everybody got nervous and financial support dropped about $8,000 a month,” said John Snowberger, the NMCA school board treasurer and a financial contributor.
The school needs about $7,500 over the next 10 months to remain operational, Snowberger added.
The NMCA school board earlier this summer reviewed the budget and decided that school could not open this fall without additional funding, according to the school’s principal Sherill Wofford.
But many school officials are adamant about keeping the K-12 private school operating, even if that includes accepting pay cuts.
“The board looked at the budget, and it looked painfully obvious that we wouldn’t be able to have school next year,” Wofford said. “The decision was we would have to close; however, nobody wanted to close. Coming up with these funds is going to have to be drastic and soon.”
Moreover, enrollment has dropped considerably in the past year due to talk of the school’s closing last summer, according to Mandy Hertel, a teacher at the academy.
The enrollment the past school year was 60 students, school officials say, of which about 20 are children of teachers. Tuition at NMCA runs about $2,000 a year per student and a little less for kindergarten.
Even with the academy’s financial woes, Hertel said school needs to go on, and has offered a portion of her salary as evidence of her devotion to the cause.
“We want the school to go on, it’s mostly a ministry that goes on there because we love our kids, and want the children to have a Christian education,” Hertel said.
“Right now we are in the process of trying to find what the minimum amount is that each one of us (teachers) can work for. We are also trying very hard to get the Christian community behind us.”