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BREAKING: AUSD shutters pools

Submitted by on 1, October 15, 2010 – 12:54 pm9 Comments

Photo by Jack Boeger

Alameda school district officials shuttered swim centers at Alameda and Encinal high schools this morning for unspecified repairs, The Island has just learned. District officials are saying they have an outside consultant looking at the pools to see what repairs they need and they’re not sure what needs to be done, what it will cost or how long it will be before they reopen.

“Basically, they’re closed for inspection and evaluation,” the district’s director of maintenance, operations and facilities, Robby Lyng, said Friday. He wasn’t sure what issues may have led to the shutdown and referred a reporter to the district’s chief business officer, Robert Shemwell, who was not immediately available for comment.

Alameda Unified and the city operate the Emma Hood Swim Center at Alameda High School and the Encinal Swim Center at Encinal High School. A woman who answered the phone at the city’s Recreation and Parks Department referred a reporter to the school district for information.

Swimmers and water polo players are just getting the word about the shutdown today, according to a website for local aquatic sports.

More to come.


  • David Mahoney says:

    I have heard from several residents that Encinal (no surprise here.)is in serious disrepair including rough, sharp surfaces within pool(s) that have resulted in a number of serious cuts on feet.

  • Jill says:

    I know of several hotel pools in the state (including one in Alameda), that were shut down due to inspection infractions over the summer. It could be what happened here too…

  • James Reichert says:

    Dear David,
    What does “Encinal (no surprise here)” mean or imply?
    Yes, both the AHS and EHS pools and locker room facilities are old
    and yes they are neglected, but I don’t believe they are willfully neglected. It is just a mater of economic priorities and insufficient funds to provide proper upkeep.
    In the meantime masters swimmers, high school water polo teams, club swimmers, recreational swimmers and kids taking lessons have no facility or have to squeeze in to Franklin or Lincoln. Probably over a hundred people are negatively affected by this.
    Both high schools deserve and need a whole new pool.

  • Jack B. says:

    I estimate there are about 30 kids each girls’ water polo and boys’ water polo. The Islanders have about 100 families on the team (with a waiting list.) The masters have workouts in both morning and pm… at least 50 or 60 members there.

    There is also an age-group water polo club and of course the lessons. Alameda has been churning out great swimmers for ages who often go on to scholarships in college. This will impact them quite a bit.

    The pools are definitely old and we could really use a modern facility, but they ARE taken care of and this “maintenance problem” is not impacting anybody’s health. They do not need to be closed right now.

  • Lisa Ploss says:

    What is most discouraging is the lack of forthcoming information and that decisions are being made without an understanding of the impacts. I am also curious why decisions like this are made behind closed doors, but have yet to hear an answer. Where is the transparency?

    The numbers impacted are very large – over 100 on the masters team alone, JV, Varsity mens and womens water polo, the islanders swim teams, the Alligators swim teams, Park and recreation, etc and the numbers alone do not tell the whole story. On Friday, I baked treats so my 10 year old daughter could celebrate her birthday with her teammates only to find that everything is cancelled indefintely without any explanation. My daughter was in tears. Oh well, so much for team building activities.

    When I asked a school board member what the water polo teams (JV, Varsity, mens and womens) should do since we are 2 weeks from the end of the season, I was told they could go to another pool. I asked the board member to identify this other pool for me. There was no reply. This clearly demonstrated a lack of knowledge of both the sport (requires deep water) and a lack of knowledge of how heavily utilized the pools truly are – starting at 5:30 am and going until 8 pm, often with one group getting out while another is sumultaneously hopping in.

    We returned to public schools this year largely because our son wanted to play water polo and the coaches are amazing, making do with very little. Now what?

    As a health professional, I frequently encourage swimming since kids get very little physical activity at school (my daughter gets PE once/week at her public school. Swimming is also great for adults. Now what?

  • Jen Laird says:

    A challenge associated with having one of the highest student-to-administrator ratios which I hear members of the public asking for TIME AND TIME AGAIN, is that you have fewer district staff to deal with all that falls onto their plate. We have a very lean district office, so I’m not surprised something like this has happened. On top of that, we are facing a horrendous deficit due to unprecedented state budget cuts.

    As for transparency, please consider there often (maybe always?) are legal reasons an item is discussed in closed session. Perhaps the district is facing a lawsuit about this it can’t yet divulge? I don’t know.

    But please give the Board of Ed a reasonable amount of time to respond, especially because they are facing so much else these days. I’ve gone to some, but not all, of the District meetings and forums this fall and I’m exhausted. I can’t imagine how they’re holding up. We’re looking closing half the schools in Alameda closing in the next two years! I assume these pools are on the chopping block as well, irrespective of this current issue.

    I am sorry community members are affected by these closures. I hope it underscores the problems our community is facing and the need for us to come together to solve them.

  • Jack B. says:

    >>> But please give the Board of Ed a reasonable amount of time to respond, especially because they are facing so much else these days

    How about letting us use the pool in the meantime if they are too stretched to deal with this? Not only are the water polo seasons down the the wire… but the Islanders are hosting a meet down at Chabot this weekend for 800 swimmers/day. Yet, they’ll be out of shape and unlikely to perform well at their own meet. Swimmers are highly conditioned athletes and need to at it.

    Imagine, if you will, canceling soccer or baseball for everybody in the middle of the season. That’s what AUSD has done to us. Although, I admit, our season is all year round.

  • Lisa Ploss says:

    Unfortunately, a resonable amount of time to wait is not something that the teams (women’s and men’s water polo teams) have right now as they are in the last days of their respective seasons and have no water in which to practice or compete. For some of these kids, this is their last time to compete for their respective high schools. Some of the teams are defending their championships from last year – pretty exciting once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for some kids. Likewise, the Islanders are hosting a meet this weekend and most of the their members also are suddenly without water to practice during the critical days leading up to a meet.

    Imagine taking your kids somewhere (soccer practice, school, etc.) and finding the facility shuttered without any advanced notice.

  • Kathy Servello says:

    As for the objection about Encinal- last year’s water polo team was shut out of Encinal’s pool for the first month because of needed repairs as a result of summer use. It also had faulty repairs done from before. The problem as I see it is no one is minding the pool because we have no money and lack of clear responsibility, plus last year it was a football between AUSD and ARPD as to who is responsible. This is an age old problem that rears its head periodically – AND always causes a headache for the school’s sport teams. The kids don’t matter and that is just pain wrong – let people know ahead of time, don’t keep it a secret. Good luck to the Lady Hornets, (even if I am a Jet).

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