Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Kim McMilin coaxes Andrew Thompson, 5, into putting his face into the water and blowing bubbles Tuesday Feb. 5, 2013 at the Skyview High School pool in Soldotna, Alaska. Thompson and about 20 other children were in the water during the February session of their Swim America swimming lessons.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Kim McMilin coaxes Andrew Thompson, 5, into putting his face into the water and blowing bubbles Tuesday Feb. 5, 2013 at the Skyview High School pool in Soldotna, Alaska. Thompson and about 20 other children were in the water during the February session of their Swim America swimming lessons.

School district turns to city, hospital for financial support for pool

  • Tuesday, March 25, 2014 10:53pm
  • News

As the month of April approaches, so does the next Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meeting where members will have to approve a budget for the 2014-2015 school year.

The district is facing a $4.5 million funding gap between revenues and expenditures. In addressing that shortfall, the board did not include money for the Skyview High School pool — $180,000 — in the budget.

More than a dozen members of the community spoke at the board’s Feb. 3 meeting about the future of the pool with most of them voicing their desire to see it stay open. One of the common reasons pool proponents want the facility to remain open is because they view it as a valuable community resource.

At the Feb. 26 Soldotna City Council meeting, Mayor Nels Anderson informed the council the KPBSD administration asked if the city would consider contributing $50,000 to keep the pool open for a year.

While it’s not an agenda item for tonight’s council meeting, Anderson said he plans to talk about the pool in his Mayor’s Report.

“Basically what we will do is put that in as a budget item for next year, assuming that the council members don’t object to it,” Anderson said. “And if they object to it then we’ll bring it up to a formal vote, otherwise we’ll just stick it in as a budget item.”

Anderson said he hopes with the city’s contribution, residents will be able use the pool at no cost when it is available for free swim. He said he sees the pool as a community resource and many residents use the pool for physical therapy and other health reasons.

“There’s a lot of ability to use it for other things and have community use it for learn to swim and those sorts of things,” he said. “And it’s just a valuable resource, in my opinion, as a public service thing for the whole community and the whole area — not just the City of Soldotna.”

Community members are also showing their support to keep the facility open by signing a petition at Sweeney’s Clothing in Soldotna. Owner Mike Sweeney presented the board with more than 200 signatures at its March 3 meeting. He said the petition, which has been available at his store for more than a month, has more than 500 signatures total.

“There’s a lot of people that are concerned and don’t want to see this pool end,” Sweeney said. “There’s a good chance that it might be saved, but we don’t know what direction they’re going to go.”

Superintendent Dr. Steve Atwater said that the community has shown a lot of support for keeping the pool open. However, he said the pool’s primary function is to serve students, not the community.

He said user fees only cover costs for the lifeguard and chemicals. Heating the pool is a big expense.

“It’s not a matter of increasing the user fee by a dollar to make ends meet,” he said. “… It’s hard for the public to understand that because they feel that, if they spent five bucks to swim there, that should cover it, but really it doesn’t.”

Atwater said administration has also approached Central Peninsula Hospital about contributing to keeping the pool open.

Hospital CEO Rick Davis did not immediately return phone calls from the Clarion about where CPH is in its consideration of putting up money for the facility.

Atwater said the district didn’t ask for a specific amount from either agency, but if one of both of them commit to providing some funding it could lead to changes in how the pool is operated.

“It could well lead to designated time being reserved for a specific group,” Atwater said. “I know the hospital is interested in physical therapy use. And it maybe that there’s a dedicated time for physical therapy at the pool as a result of the financial support.”

Atwater said the district needs to know each agency’s decision by next week to better determine what the viable options are for the pool as April 14 — when the board must pass a budget — closes in.

“We’re in a period of reducing expenditures,” he said. “We’re cutting things so it’s hard to say, ‘Well, just cut two teachers and keep the Skyview pool open instead.’ That’s what makes it so hard, especially when we have a pool two miles away at (Soldotna High School).”

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at

More in News

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Brad Snowden and Julie Crites participate in a Seward City Council candidate forum at the Seward Community Library in Seward on Thursday.
Seward council candidates discuss issues at election forum

Participating in Thursday’s forum were Julie Crites and Brad Snowden

Cam Choy, associate professor of art at Kenai Peninsula College, works on a salmon sculpture in collaboration with the Kenai Watershed Forum during the Kenai River Festival at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on June 8, 2019. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Soldotna adopts arts and culture master plan

The plan outlines how the city plans to support arts and culture over the next 10 years

Architect Nancy Casey speaks in front of a small gathering at the Fireside Chat presented by the Kenai Watershed Forum on Nov. 30, 2022, at Kenai River Brewing in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Watershed Forum’s Fireside Chats return Wednesday

The chats will cover a range of interesting topics, centered on knowledge, research and projects

Erosion of the Kenai bluff near the Kenai Senior Center. (Photo by Aidan Curtin courtesy Scott Curtin)
Kenai to sign bluff stabilization agreement Monday

A signing event will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Kenai Senior Center

Engineer Lake Cabin can be seen in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Nov. 21, 2021. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Public comment accepted for proposed rate increases for overnight fees at refuge

Campsites would increase $5 per night and cabins would increase $10 per night

Abigal Craig, youth winner of the Seventh Annual Kenai Silver Salmon Derby, is presented a novelty check by Kenai River Sportfishing Association Executive Director Shannon Martin, City of Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel, and Kenai Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Samantha Springer at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Silver Salmon Derby nets fish, funds for river protection

116 fish were weighed by 79 anglers across the six days of competition

Soldotna Public Works Director Kyle Kornelis talks about the Soldotna field house project during a Soldotna City Council meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna awards field house contract

Anchorage-based Criterion General, Inc. will construct the facility

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Peter Micciche testifies before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly during a meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly to let borough mayors speak sooner during meetings

The mayor’s report will now be given after the first round of public comments and before public hearings and new assembly business

Assembly members Lane Chesley, left, and Richard Derkevorkian participate in a borough assembly meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Haara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly asks state to allow term limits for school board members

Alaska Statute does not allow term limits to be imposed on school board members

Most Read