A potential closure of the Moffat County High School swimming pool is now off the table in school district budget cut discussions for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
During a work session before Thursday’s Moffat County School Board meeting, the board recommended that the pool closure be shelved and reassessed within a year.
District facilities manager Mike Taylor attended the work session and distributed a letter detailing the current state of the pool, maintenance costs, inspection results and future possibilities for the facility.
In its current state, the pool costs $75,000 a year to maintain.
Amid a state budget crisis, the district is faced with cutting about $1.6 million from its $20 million budget.
In a first draft of possible budget reductions, closing the pool was mentioned as a way to cut expenses.
However, the board said recent feedback from the community indicated a strong contingent opposed closing the only year-round, full-sized pool in Craig.
“I’d like to see us keep it open another year,” board president JoAnn Baxter said. “But, I’d want us to be working in some capacity for a longer range solution to the pool problem. Do we need to have a swimming pool committee? Are there things we can do? I think there is a desire to keep it open, if at all feasible. But, if we do close it at some point, I’d want to know what’s going to happen to the space and how much it’s going to cost us to reopen it.”
The pool was built at the same time as the high school building in 1980. It is the last remaining Chesterfield Aluminum pool in the state, Taylor said during the work session.
About 14 years ago, a plastic liner was installed to address the rusting of the aluminum pool.
According to Taylor’s report, that liner is fixed and patched when the pool is drained each summer, but will eventually need to be replaced at a cost of up to $250,000.
“Every year we go in there and drain this thing in the summer, it’s just little bumps all over,” Taylor said. “What that is, is rust that ate out the metal under the pool. The liner is thick and holding that together. But, that’s the course we chose to fix it at that particular time.”
Other upcoming repairs could include new cloth filters, which cost between $6,000 and $8,000, a broken drain and possible leaking underground pipes.
Taylor’s letter included a 2009 statement from Austin Nelson, a contractor and certified pool inspector. His statement said the pool met or exceeded all state and federal standards for mechanics and safety.
Board member Andrea Camp said shelving the pool issue for future consideration will allow time for members of the community to step up, in case the school district faces further reductions and has to look at closing it during next year’s budget discussions.
“With the baseball field, that program managed to raise some money and do that,” Camp said. “If there’s people out there that want to help us do this, then great.”
District finance director Mark Rydberg said he accepted the board’s recommendation to push back a potential closure, but he reminded the board that $1.6 million in cuts is also affecting core education.
“To me, we’re talking about cutting the reading intervention program by 20 percent, but we’re keeping open a pool that yes, maybe you may have to cut that elementary P.E. program, but there is another pool in this community,” Rydberg said. “I know it’s only open in the summer, and that might be limiting.
“But, do we spend that $75,000 on what is really an extracurricular thing and cut intervention reading aides at lower levels? I know other people don’t see it that way, but that’s the way I see it.”