School pool fees may go up

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Wednesday, May 27, 2015 9:21pm
  • News

Fees for the seven swimming pools inside Kenai Peninsula Borough School District middle and high schools are likely to increase to offset a $750,000 operating deficit.

School district administrators are in the process of reviewing what facilities are charging in other parts of Alaska.

“We are trying to determine what to go up to,” said Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones. “The pools are losing a substantial amount.”

Board of Education member Dan Castimore said at this point it is almost a requirement that the fees are increased. However, no one is sure by how much, he said.

“We are waiting to see what the administration recommends,” Castimore said. “We have seen numbers from other communities and what we are doing is way underneath those.”

The board approved a nearly $100,000 reduction in pool-related costs in the Fiscal Year 2016 Operating Budget, on April 6. The cuts included “consolidation of positions and efficiencies,” according to the budget.

Jones said the district is not ready to release which pool staff positions have been cut.

The current pool budget may not be sufficient, Jones said.

“We don’t have enough lifeguards. We keep hearing we don’t pay them enough,” Jones said. “(Raising wages) will help us be more competitive. Pool fees should change to cover our costs.”

Furthermore, the $750,000 deficit does not include fuel and electricity costs, Jones said. Determining those amounts is challenging because the school district monitors the total cost of operating a school building as a whole, rather than the pools individually, he said.

It has been a long time since the price of admission to school district pools has increased, said Will Hubler at the Kenai Central High School pool. The prices don’t account for inflation.

Hubler said pool fees should be raised — but in the right places. The school district could charge more for a business to rent the facilities, or increase the price of lap swimming for two hours, which is $4 at Kenai Central High School, he said.

“You pay $12 for a movie you watch for less than two hours,” Hubler said.

The Peninsula Piranhas swim team, which Hubler also coaches, is a non-profit, whose registered members pay monthly dues to cover the cost of renting the Kenai Central High School pool, Hubler said. Anything they can’t cover is made up through fundraising, he said.

“If the fees are raised it’s put on the back of the kids, which is a bummer,” Hubler said.

The school district held a series of three meetings in Homer, Soldotna and Seward in February to gauge community perception about pool revenues and expenditures.

In Homer and Soldotna community response supported raising fees to keep the pools open, according to the summary of community meeting input document. In Soldotna and Seward, getting into the Pick.Click.Give. program, or identifying scholarship options for those who may not be able to afford to swim if the fees are raised, were suggested.

Lowering pool temperatures, reducing staffing positions and converting pools to salt-based systems instead of chlorine were other suggestions for saving money, according to the community input document.

Jones said the school district is doing preliminary research by looking at how other pool fees are structured.

At this point it is uncertain when the fees will rise, Jones said. Changes will need to be approved by the school board, he said.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at

More in News

Dr. Kim Thiele stands by a wall of newspaper clippings and images of family members and precursors in his office near Kenai on Monday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A ministry for me’

Kalifornsky doctor wraps up career after 44 years

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, listens to testimony during a Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday in Juneau. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman game seizure bill received warmly in Senate committee

Of the roughly 150 animals the department takes each year, an average of between one and two are determined to be wrongfully seized

A collage of photos of Nikiski North Star Elementary students taking swimming lessons at the Nikiski Pool. (Photo collages provided by Nikiski North Star Elementary)
Community effort puts 200 Nikiski North Star students through swimming lessons

The lessons covered “everything,” from basic flotation to constructing rough-but-functional life jackets out of clothing

From left, Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, hugs Rep. Stanley Wright, R-Anchorage, after House passage of sweeping education legislation while Rep. Maxine Dibert, D-Fairbanks, watches on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
House passes BSA increase, with other education provisions

The bill now goes back to the Senate, where lawmakers must approve the bill as-is before it can head to the governor’s desk

Rep. Justin Ruffridge speaks about
House considers, rejects multiple school funding amendments during Wednesday floor debate

Over several hours, lawmakers considered six different increases in the Base Student Allocation to public schools

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses members of the Alaska Legislature in the House chambers on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dismissing critics, Sullivan touts LNG project

During his annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday, the U.S. senator said state leaders should be doing everything they can to make the project successful

From left, Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, east side setnetter Ken Coleman and Konrad Jackson present information about a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for east side setnet fishery permits during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Senate committee hears setnet buyback bill

The East Side of Cook Inlet Set Net Fleet Reduction Act is sponsored by Nikiski Sen. Jesse Bjorkman

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Tie vote kills early House debate on education funding

Lawmakers went into an hourslong recess that ended with adjournment until Tuesday morning

Most Read