The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District plans to be operating school pools more efficiently by the start of the 2016 school year.
Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones broke down current operations in a series of public meetings held in Seward, Homer and Soldotna this week.
More than 70 central Kenai Peninsula residents packed into the Soldotna High School library Wednesday.
Jones said the school district wants to make it easier for community members to take advantage of the open and lap swim hours.
“When we looked at the overall use of all these groups, and you look at the pools in our communities, usage is not real high compared to the amount of availability that it could be used,” Jones said.
However, instructional needs remain the main function of the pools, Jones said.
The facilities are being utilized for that purpose less than what administration had believed, he said.
In addition to being more “user friendly,” the school district will be looking at ways to increase the financial viability of the pools, Jones said.
This may result in increasing fees, which compared to other school districts in the state, are relatively low, he said.
The school district funds the pools through two different budgets, the General Fund and the Activity Fund, Jones said. Currently, the combined cost of operating the pools is running a nearly $800,000 deficit, he said.
The goal is not necessarily to immediately bring that number “down to zero,” but to significantly minimize it, Jones said.
The school district’s activity fund budgets the lifeguard salaries and benefits, chemicals and supplies, and the general fund budgets for custodians, pool managers and supervisors.
Total cost to operate the school district’s pools is more than $1 million and the generated revenue is $242,116.
Jones said he wants to also coordinate the management of the pools.
Now the pool manager reports to the school principal. Sites individually determine staffing, fees, chemicals and testing methods used in the buildings, pool schedule and pool temperatures, he said.
Potentially the pools could coordinate so that, for example, one pool would be heated slightly warmer than others in the area for groups that use it for arthritis therapy, Jones said.
Wrapping up Wednesday’s meeting Jones said the greater issue of the school district’s pools stems from tight budgets and asked each attendee to take the time to ask the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly to fund the school district to the fullest amount possible this year.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at email@example.com.