The first dive into Strathmore High School’s $3.3 million pool was made Thursday as the first aquatics facility at that campus was officially opened.
School officials and civic leaders gathered to cut the ribbon on the pool that has been decades in the planning and the past six years in development.
The first water polo practice was held Thursday night and the first event will be the Granite Hills at Strathmore water polo contest on Thursday afternoon.
While the beautiful new pool was celebrated, officials said it could be the last project of its type in a long time. If Proposition 2 on Tuesday’s ballot is approved, school reserves will be cut drastically, eliminating the ability for a district to save money for construction projects.
The Strathmore pool was paid for with district money. There was no bond measure and no grant money used. Porterville Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Ken Gibbs said the district was able to save money over the past six years to pay for the pool and a planned classroom wing at Belleview Elementary.
However, with reserves expected to be capped at just 6 percent, the district will not be able to save more than just under $8 million a year. He said that is basically one month’s payroll for the district.
At the last minute Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to include the school district reserve cap in Prop. 2, the state rainy day fund measure on the ballot. Ironically, that measure is for the state to build up a reserve to use in hard economic times, but takes away that ability from school districts to do the same.
PUSD has used the reserve in many ways over the years, including during the economic downturn three years ago, to match state grant funds for projects and to pay for projects such as the Strathmore pool. Gibbs said that will become very difficult to do with the expected passage of Prop. 2, unless somehow the cap on district reserves is removed.
PUSD and Burton Elementary District have both gone on record opposing the cap. Burton has indicated the cap will hurt the district and any future constructions plans it may have.
Good Day for a Dip
The 25-yard by 25-meter pool looked about as inviting as it could Thursday morning. With a warm sun baring down, officials were pleased to see it finally being utilized. The project took longer than expected, but at least part of the water polo season will be played in the new facility that is complete with lights and a scoreboard. Strathmore has been using the Granite Hills pools as its home site.
Thursday’s dip by a few students was the first as the pool was just given final approval for use by the health department Thursday morning.
“This is an historic day for Strathmore to have its own pool and be on the same level with the other schools in the district,” said Superintendent John Snavely.
Strathmore athletic teams include both Strathmore and Harmony Magnet students and Snavely noted the pool is for both schools.
The pool includes two diving boards and varies from just over 3 feet in depth to 12 feet in depth. It is heated and will be used by the swim teams in the spring.
Work on the pool began last winter.
Posted: Friday, October 31, 2014 6:00 am
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