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School district swimming pool keeping head above water

The Olympic Aquatic Center has multiple uses for the community including swim team practices and meets, swimming lessons, rehabilitation therapy and physical education classes for students with special needs.   - Photo by Jesse Beals/file photo
The Olympic Aquatic Center has multiple uses for the community including swim team practices and meets, swimming lessons, rehabilitation therapy and physical education classes for students with special needs.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals/file photo

With summer weather officially here, hot and lazy days means cool and refreshing dips in Silverdale’s only public swimming pool, a commodity that is safe, at least for the next year.

Although the Central Kitsap School District has had budgeting nightmares for the past two years, they have budgeted to keep the Olympic Aquatic Center open for the 2007-08 school year. Amidst the anxiety that many community members have felt regarding the pool, Dirk Gleysteen, CKSD Director of Operations, said the district is working hard to try and find a happy medium of keeping the pool open while saving the district much needed dollars.

“The pool is budgeted and will be open in 2007-08,” Gleysteen said. “We recently raised fees ... to be in line with other (school) district’s pools.”

Costing CKSD roughly $240,000 a year to maintain and operate, the pool has been a significant weight on the school district’s budget. The total cost includes utilities, salaries, chemicals and personal costs for stipends, Gleysteen said, as well as adaptive physical education program transportation and physical education programs for special needs students.

Gleysteen added that the decision to continue running the pool facility was based on the input from the community and pool staff.

“I think everybody recognizes that (the pool) is a significant community asset,” Gleysteen added. “Nobody wants to take anything away from the community, and I think that’s what we heard from the community during the study (of closing the pool).”

Even though the pool is safe during the 2007-08 school year, studies on cost-reducing measures will continue at the end of the summer. Gleysteen said there are currently no new aspects regarding the study of the pool. He added that the Olympic Aquatic Club has been invited to participate in this process and have been told they can help with their ideas and interest in monetary alternatives to help keep the pool open.

“We hope to get them involved,” Gleysteen added. “We’re going to pull together a community of pool users and folks with experience in recreational pool management ... to talk about the future of the pool and how (the district) might be able to (relieve some of the) district operating costs and keep the pool available for district and community use.”

Although no decisions have been made regarding the pool, Gleysteen said if it were to be closed, there are two options of what to do with the structure. The first option is to cover the standing water, discontinue heating it and let it sit. The second option would be to drain the pool, and fill to a certain weight with sand to counteract buoyancy so it would not be damaged by the high water table.

Gleysteen said his main concern regarding a pool closure is having “to give up district programs that usually use the pool.”

Trying every avenue before any major decisions are made, Gleysteen said the district is going to try and operate the pool in some way.

Approved by the CKSD board members at Wednesday’s meeting last week, the pool fees will be increasing to $3.25 for general admission, $2.75 for children (5-17) and seniors for general admission. Ten-swim passes will be available for $27.50 general admission and $22.50 for children and seniors. Six-month and yearly passes are available for varying rates, as well as pool and lane rentals.

“I think the goal is to reduce the district net cost of the pool,” he added, “not eliminate the pool.”

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