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3/16/2011 8:43:00 AM
Aquatic Center boosters have 6 more weeks to expand pool of partners

Sue Tone
Reporter


The tenacious group of Aquatic Center sub-committee members asked for more time at the March 8 Humboldt Unified School District Governing Board meeting, and board members granted a six-week extension to report back with a list of potential pool partners.

The sub-committee, tasked with finding community financial partners to operate the pool once it is built, sent out surveys to district families and employees asking for interest in buying an annual membership. Kym Lopez, chair of the B Bond committee which oversees the sub-committee, said it received 765 surveys from about 6,300 it sent out.

Lopez said 64 percent of returned surveys were in favor of the pool and those people would purchase a membership pass. About 7 percent said they were not in favor of the pool, and 30 percent did not complete the survey or did not include a name, which made them invalid.

The "yes" memberships add up to $94,000, and the sub-committee found one partner willing to put up $15,000 annually to use the pool. That is the current annual contract the USA Swim Team pays for the use of pool time in Prescott.

The district estimates annual maintenance and operation costs at about $200,000, and the sub-committee hopes to find more partners who will sign a non-binding letter of intent to generate the other $91,000.

Lopez said the sub-committee's letter of intent had to make its way through district officials and the attorney before members could go out into the community, and she requested more time to explore potential partnerships with local businesses.

Board member Shelly Damschroder said she didn't consider the surveys as reliable support for cost coverage.

"Basically, it's from staff or family members of school children. That's like taking IOUs. When families have to choose between paying the electric bill or a swim pool membership, the electric bill is going to get paid," she said on Monday.

Damschroder said she was hoping to find company support with large dollar commitments. She also is reluctant to approve building the pool, which B Bond money pays for, if the district can't afford the annual maintenance costs at the same time it is looking at cutting teachers and staff next year to balance the budget.

Board member Rich Adler said offering the extension hopefully would garner more solid commitments from businesses and larger partners.

"I want to certainly give them a little more time to do that," he said this week. He called the results so far "encouraging on the one hand, but it's not enough."

He also said the survey results were confusing, and the 30 percent of uncounted surveys caused him to wonder a little bit about the accuracy of the numbers. The "promise" of those interested in membership was great, he said, "but it's difficult to bank on those in the long run. I wish we could.

"In tough economic times, people will make choices, and what they say they will pay today they may not be able to tomorrow," he said.

Lopez said she will finish tallying the remainder of the surveys this week, and she remains optimistic that the sub-committee will find additional partners from the community.

"I want to do what is best for the school district. Whatever the data shows is what we'll go with," she said, adding that the overwhelmingly positive survey results surprised her.

The board will hear from Michael LaVallee with Stone and Youngberg at its April 12 meeting, and learn about the status of the remaining bond amount, and tax implications over the next several years, including consequences of returning the remaining B Bond money to the taxpayers. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Glassford Hill Middle School. The district has yet to announce the location of its April 26 meeting.









Related Stories:
• School board pulls plug on proposed Aquatic Center
• HUSD takes another look at aquatic center
• Pool still not a wise decision in hard times
• Partners for the Aquatic Center will report to HUSD board Tuesday
• Partners could ease fears about aquatic center


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Article comment by: Reed Winfrey

I live in Prescott Valley and have not received any survey about the HUSD pool. I wonder how many other folks have not been contacted about their thoughts on this subject.

OK, so if I ask a couple of neighbours if they think we should tear up the street, and those two say yes, does that make it 100% in favor of tearing up the street?? Do you really think it should be torn up? After all, all taxpayers would be paying for the repair of that street. Come on folks, let's use some old fashioned common sense here.

Since a pool was never listed in the bond issue, who decided we needed a pool?
Who approved paying my tax money for a design of a pool??
At what level of HUSD do tax dollars get side tracked for special intrest groups? ie pool
Please tell us, the taxpayor, just how much of our tax dollars have already been spent on this pool idea.
I really would like to hear some accountability from the HUSD board on this subject.

I also wonder how many citizens are willing to get up and attend the HUSD board meeting on April 12th at Bradshaw Mtn middle school, 6 30PM. I hope to see you there.


Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011
Article comment by: Bad Idea

A multi-million dollar Mountain Valley Splash with a roof, SANS kiddie area and waterslide, is gross misuse of taxpayer funds and a sure maintenance & operations money pit for the life of the facility. What! No diving area? No adequate depth? No kiddie play area? No water slide? What about parking? And we are going to spend what?!?!
No. PV taxpayers are already seeing red over the other bond projects that were not on the original list of needs, and know that on that original list, several were not necessary but were simply added to get all schools and their parents on board.
Don't do it. It is the epitome of folly.


Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Article comment by: Gail Kenny

If that many people are willing to put up money for a pool, let them do so. Pay their membership dues now -- in advance of any pool construction so the district isn't just relying on "IOUs," as Board Member Shelly Damschroder so aptly put it. People may balk at sending in money that the district will hold onto for many months. But hold on -- isn't that what the district is doing with our B-Bond tax money? Holding onto money that the taxpayers paid up front to fund something HUSD can't afford. We need teachers and staff more than maintenance and operations costs on a post. Fine, give them six weeks to find legitimate corporate and community sponsors or upfront multi-year memberships, or do the right thing, and return the B-Bond money and restore the district taxpayers' faith in the district's accountability.



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