Friends of the Shelton Pool, a 1,000-person-strong grass-roots group whose members are unhappy with a recent Shelton School Board decision to close a community swimming pool, isn’t done yet.
On Friday, members appealed the School Board’s February decision to close the pool to Mason County Superior Court. On Tuesday, they expect to be right back at the next School Board meeting, lined up and ready to speak during the 30-minute comment portion.
“If the School Board is willing to listen and work with the community, a solution can be found. I know that for certain,” said Jacquie MacAlevy, a longtime Shelton resident and a member of Friends of the Shelton Pool.
MacAlevy, 41, is especially close to the issue because five of her six children swim at the pool, including four who swim competitively, she said.
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But it doesn’t stop there: She was appointed by the School Board to a pool advisory committee a year ago. They weren’t given a whole lot of direction at the time, she recalled, so the committee took it upon itself to “find options in the event they didn’t want to fund the pool.”
The committee made a presentation to the board at the end of May 2014, answered two or three questions, and then never heard from the board again, she said.
On Feb. 10 the board voted 4-1 to close the pool on July 1 and then reaffirmed its decision Feb. 24 after members elected not to reconsider their previous vote, said Art Jarvis, interim superintendent for the Shelton School District.
That was disappointing to MacAlevy because they could have been working toward a solution since May, she said.
The pool is more than 40 years old and is based at Shelton High School, where it is used by students and the community.
It’s in need of some serious repairs, Jarvis said. He estimates that it needs about $400,000 in short-term repairs and $2.5 million in long-term repairs, and that’s on top of the $150,000 a year the district already spends to maintain the pool, he said, although $50,000 is offset through rental fees.
And how much money is in the school district’s capital fund? A grand total of $13.64, he said.
A $7 million school levy passed in February 2014, but that money is needed for other things, such as improvements to schools, graduation requirements and additional staffing, Jarvis said.
The last school district bond issue that voters approved was in 2001; a different bond issue failed in 2007. And Jarvis added that a $7 million school levy is relatively small when compared with other school districts.
The district’s insurance company has agreed to cover the pool for the balance of the year, he added.
Jarvis acknowledged that it’s a tough situation for Shelton, which he described as an “old, proud timber town” that just doesn’t have a lot of community facilities, noting that the local bowling alley burned down a few years ago.
“They need things like that in the Shelton School District,” he said, “but we can’t be the one to fund it for the community.”
Friends of the Shelton Pool has reached out to community and business leaders and will continue to present options for funding the pool, MacAlevy said.
Those include creating a separate entity that would lease the pool and be responsible for it, or creating a separate taxing district, akin to a metropolitan parks district, she said.
Possible ideas for the school district include using a pool operated by the Squaxin Island Tribe and the pool at The Evergreen State College, Jarvis said.
The next Shelton School District board meeting will begin at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Choice Alternative School, 807 W. Pine St., Shelton.