Schools kick in for pool

Commissioner asks Board of Education for funding help

Members of the Moffat County School District Board of Education dipped into district pockets to continue a rehabilitation program for some students and to help keep open a community facility at Thursday night's board meeting.

Moffat County commissioner Darryl Steele asked school board members to contribute $5,000 to keep the county's Shadow Mountain Clubhouse open until next year. About 25 of the district's special education students regularly use the facility's swimming pool and hot tub for therapy.

The board unanimously approved Steele's request, but not without some hard questions.

"If we're going to be a player I want to see some numbers that say you're running it as efficiently as possible," school board member Gary Ellgen said to Steele. "Can you shut down the pool in the summer months when the city's (outdoor pool) opens?"

Moffat County Commissioners have traveled a tumultuous road in the last year trying to meet flailing 2004 budget projections. In December, the county board announced it could only afford to keep the Shadow Mountain open until the end of March.

It costs $108,000 a year to operate, county officials said.

But if the county board receives $27,500, largely in donations, it may be possible to keep the facility open, at least through the end of 2004.

Steele said that would be possible if commissioners raise $20,000 in community donations, with county funds covering the remaining $7,500.

After being contacted for the effort, officials at Colorado Northwestern Community College expressed their regrets that they too are in lean budget times, Steele said.

Officials from the City of Craig however offered to provide financial help.

Commissioners have already approved swimming and rental rate increases on the facility.

"We're going to be talking to the community to try to keep this open," Steele said. "One thing I think we have to do is work together."

School Board members approved the funding on the contingency that the facility would be opened. If not, the district would get its money back. Board members allotted $4,000 in district funds and another $1,000 expected from a grant.

The district has use of the swimming pool of at the Moffat County High School, but some board members debated whether it fit the needs of the district's special education students. Shadow Mountain's pool is warmer and outfitted with a hottub, which makes it easier for therapeutic purposes, board members said.

Superintendent Pete Bergmann recommended that the board not take the funding request lightly.

"I do believe we can afford it, but I have to let the board know we are in lean times," he said. "As we look into our budget we have to be conscious of all those things and be sure we're fulfilling the mission of the district."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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