Safety concerns force SKSD to close pool

PORT ORCHARD — The popular community pool at South Kitsap High School has been temporarily closed by the school district while administrators figure out how to pay for extensive renovation work so it can reopen.

According to South Kitsap School District officials, the pool, which is heavily used by high school students, athletic teams, clubs and the public, is in need of a permanent remedy to fix its badly outdated and inadequate mechanical systems.

School district spokeswoman Amy Miller said a mechanical system renovation will encompass repairs to the floating cross-pool wall, filtration system, improving water visibility and fixes to the adjustable pool floor.

She also said lighting above and surrounding the pool is inadequate for adequate visibility and user safety. Staff and lifeguards are finding it difficult to see swimmers in the water.

Compounding the district’s dilemma is that students at the high school use the pool daily for physical education classes.

“Our facilities and operations staff, along with the pool staff, have done a commendable job over the years keeping district buildings and systems working with our limited resources,” district Superintendent Karst Brandsma said.

“The issue is not stewardship or responsible maintenance. We simply need funding on a larger scale to tackle projects as complex as the pool.”

Voters were asked in February 2017 to approve a $172,6 million school capital project bond package that included funds to build a second high school. A portion of that package — $1,839,502 — was allocated to fund improvements to the community pool.

Voters taking part in the Feb. 14, 2017 election failed to approve the bond by a narrow margin. Without that bond funding, the district says it must look for other solutions to improve the pool’s safety issues.

One positive factor for the district is that the pool does qualify to receive construction assistance funding from Washington state in the form of state match money.

“Assistance funding would require South Kitsap School District to provide an initial outlay of funding to finance any renovation work from either the general fund or the use of non-voter approved debt,” district officials said in a statement.

The district said Dec. 8 that Brandsma and the administrative staff will identify viable options available and later will prepare a plan and recommendation to the board of directors.

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