This past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District administration continued its public dialogue on area pool use. If Wednesday’s meeting is any indication, the dialogue has been a productive one.
More than 70 people crowded into the Soldotna High School library for the pool use presentation — a clear indication that the public is engaged in the discussion. In addition to sharing some of their thoughts and concerns, they listened to Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones outline some objectives to make it easier for the community to take advantage of lap and open swim. He emphasized that instructional needs will take precedence — as they should for a school facility — but that there are opportunities that aren’t being fully taken advantage of.
Changes may include things such as better coordination of pool schedules, or keeping one of the area’s three school pools a few degrees warmer for those interested in therapy.
Of course, the issue has come to the fore because of the ongoing budget crunch, and belts won’t be getting looser any time soon. Jones noted a roughly $800,000 difference between what the district’s pools cost to run and the revenue they generate. While he said the goal isn’t to make that number zero, that gap needs to be narrowed, and to that end, fee increases may be necessary.
Clearly, the public values access to school pools and the school district administration has shown a willingness to better serve the community. Improving pool access while looking for other efficiencies in managing area pools seem like good places to start.
We hope to see the dialogue continue, and look forward to changes that will benefit users and ease the financial burden on the school district.