School District Seeks to Operate New Swimming Pools

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education is hoping to partner with the YMCA or another organization to maintain and operate some brand-new swimming pools.

With some creative financing and partnering, the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) could build as many as 10 new pools.

Right now, the SDUSD’s only swimming pool is the one at La Jolla High School, which was built with private funds and is maintained through the school’s foundation.

Proposition Z, the $2.8 million bond approved by local voters in November, included additional swimming pools for the district. School Board member Scott Barnett helped bring the proposal to the board.

At this point, Barnett says the district has the money through the bond to build the pools, but does not have the money to operate and maintain the pools.

Therein lies the potential partnership.

The school district is hoping the YMCA, or the Boys and Girls Club, or any non-profit organization will consider making a deal.

“So [the district] is building the pool that [the YMCA or other non-profit] would otherwise have to build to serve their members. It just so happens the pool will also serve our kids, our sports teams and the broader community,” explained Barnett. “So they get a lot. They get a free pool for which they would have to pay for perpetual maintenance operations, maintenance and insurance. So that’s a win-win.”

The process is just starting, and the board voted on Tuesday night to send the idea to staff for additional input.

The goal is to build five pools initially, later expanding to 10 pools in total, in a deal that works for students and taxpayers.

Madison, Patrick Henry and Mira Mesa High Schools would all have pools built on or close to campus. San Diego High School has very little room to build, so to serve students there, a swimming pool would be built at nearby Roosevelt Middle School.

For students at Mission Bay High School, where space is also limited, there would be a pool built at Pacific Beach Middle School, according to the board.

Without the partnership with the YMCA or another non-profit, the pool plan will likely not pan out.

“That costs a lot of money and we have higher priorities than that,” said Barnett.

But, if the partnership works out, it may just be a perfect match for all.

“So the bottom line is we’re going to fill a need for the schools, we’re going to give opportunities for kids who may have never dipped their toes in pools, to be able to swim and learn to swim. And, we will not have additional costs to the taxpayers,” added Barnett. “What’s the point of building facilities if I know that when it comes to budget cuts in future years, they’re just going to be on the chopping block? I want to make this recession-proof and work for everybody.”

The board will soon draft up requirements for proposals from organizations that might want to make a deal.

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