Lake Washington School District might help with pools in region
September 30, 2013
By Ari Cetron
Focus is on Juanita pool in Kirkland
New: Sept. 30, 12:59 p.m.
As the Lake Washington School Board considered options for its roughly $750 million bond request, money to renovate the Juanita High School pool in Kirkland was left off of the February measure.
But a new wrinkle may allow some funding for that pool, and possibly other pools used by students in the district. Funding to help build the Sammamish Aquatic Center, however, was not part of the board’s discussion.
At a public hearing leading up to the board deciding on the bond amount, dozens of members of the Kirkland community came before the board, asking them to include funding to keep the Juanita pool open. Many speakers said they would vote against the entire bond measure if there was no pool funding included.
The board left pool funding out of the bond issue. Board members were sympathetic, but said it was more important to fund classrooms than swimming lanes.
However there is another, older bond that may factor into the issue. The district’s Phase II bond, approved in 2006, may cost less than the district anticipated at the time. Superintendent Traci Pierce estimates that the district will have $10-12 million left in funding from that bond after all construction is complete.
She suggested that the board allocate some of that money to help fund pools in the district, but there’s a catch. First, the February bond has to pass.
At a Sept. 9 meeting, Pierce explained to the school board that if the February bond does not pass, the district will need to use the money from the old bond to help build new classroom space. However, if the bond passes, the district could then shift the money from the old bond to other uses.
“If this bond passes, we’ll have the flexibility,” Board Member Nancy Bernard said.
Before it could shift the money, the school board would need to hold a public hearing. At the Sept. 9 meeting, the board unanimously passed a resolution stating it would do just that. If the bond passes, the board will hold a hearing about the possibility of using money from an old bond to help pay for pools.
The focus of the discussion, however, was on the Juanita pool.
Bernard noted that the Sammamish Community Center, which will include two pools, would be inadequate for competitive swim teams. In particular, she pointed out that it will not be deep enough to host diving competitions.
Board members in general were supportive of the idea of helping fund pools. They noted that aquatics are not the primary mission of a school district, but that hundreds of students each year participate on swim and dive teams, and that helping support athletic programs is important to the school district.
Money for the Sammamish pool?
The Lake Washington School Board did not specifically say there would be any money to help build a pool in Sammamish, but it did not close the door on the possibility.
The Sammamish Community Center is being designed to accommodate the addition of a pool, which could be used for competitions.
The wording of the school board resolution leaves open the possibility of helping Sammamish build the pool, since it says the money could be used to fund pools in any part of the district.
At the Sept. 16 meeting of the Sammamish City Council, Traci Pierce, superintendent of the Lake Washington School District, explained that the intent of the school board’s resolution was to help fund the Juanita High School pool. She said there may be a bit of cash for helping build a competitive pool in Sammamish, but was clear that the Juanita pool was to be the main recipient of any pool-related funding from the school district.