The Board of Education will host a community forum to discuss capital plans and the Columbia High School facility renewal, including the future of the CHS swimming program.
The forum will be held Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Columbia High School Library.
The Board particularly seeks community input on the decision to build a swimming pool addition or to eliminate swimming from the physical education program. The forum will allow time for community members to make comments, followed by Board of Education discussion.
Comments can also be sent to email@example.com. The comments sent to this email will be shared with all Board of Education members to inform their discussions.
The BOE developed a guiding change document regarding the Columbia High School renewal which takes into consideration the projected enrollment growth and the need to make a decision regarding the aging swimming pool. Required upgrades to the facility including improved ventilation, lighting upgrades, locker room refinishing and structural repairs is estimated to cost in the area of $5 million. The repairs would not address two major concerns, changes to interscholastic competition regulations and direct access to the pool area.
For the estimated cost of about $8 million an addition with a swimming pool can be constructed that would meet the regulatory 6 lane requirements and allow easy access to the swimming pool for competing teams and for community access. The pool traditionally has been used by the YMCA, the Adult School, the town recreation departments and local scouting troops. With talk of an addition, the district has already been approached by other high school athletic departments interested in renting the space if a swimming pool is built. Preliminary cost analyses suggest that with anticipated revenues from outside usage, the annual cost of running the facility could potentially be offset by revenues to breakeven.
While discussions to partner with an outside group for the construction of the pool facility have not been successful, there is interest in partnering in running the facility and offering instructional and recreational programs to the community. These potential partnerships would be pursued if a new facility is approved.
Enrollment increases at the high school are expected to rise over the next five years, reaching over 2,100 in 2017, based on the demographer’s latest projections (October 2013). In order to meet these enrollment needs, the district will need an additional six to ten classrooms. An addition will allow for swing space to create these additional classrooms. The BOE had been presented with five options to address the enrollment increases and the overall renewal of Columbia High School.
Renewal within the existing footprint (repurposing the existing pool space)
Renewal with central office repurposed for classroom space
Renewal with a new swimming pool and fitness center in the gym parking lot
Renewal with a basic swimming pool behind the existing main gym
Renewal with classrooms behind the existing main gym
The BOE reduced the number of options under consideration to three options at the August 26th meeting. Options 2 and 3 were eliminated because of the cost, among other factors. Administration suggested that option 5 should not be considered at this time, as option 1, which is a baseline proposal that would take place with or without the other options, would meet the projected enrollment figures. Should additional rooms be needed in years beyond the projections, this decision can be made in 2017 when additional enrollment information will be available.
The Board of Education is scheduled to make a decision regarding option 4 in November. The community forum on October 24th is to inform the community of the discussions and to help inform the Board’s decision.