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Alameda’s school board to discuss fate of pools

Submitted by on 1, April 11, 2011 – 12:02 am3 Comments
Photo by Jack Boeger.

Alameda’s Board of Education is set to discuss plans to hammer out a short-term agreement with the city to run the school district’s two swim centers – or shut down its pools by June 30.

County environmental health officials have given the district until August 30 to come up with a plan to bring its Emma Hood Swim Center and Encinal Swim Center up to current health and safety codes. District officials say they need to work out a short term deal with the city to run the pools by July 1 and then work with the community to find a long-term fix to their pool problems, or shutter the pools entirely.

“Absent a short-term agreement and a long-term plan, the liability risks, necessary capital improvements and on-going maintenance costs are a financial hardship on the District,” a staff presentation to be offered to the school board Tuesday night says.

District officials closed the swim centers in mid-October after they learned the pools didn’t comply with federal and state rules regarding drain covers. County inspectors at that time said the district needed to come up with a plan for the pools.

Days after voters passed the Measure A school parcel tax, the district released the results of a needs assessment that said the district was facing costs of $1.7 million to bring its pools up to code and up to $4 million if the board opts to build new pools. Both district and city officials have said they can’t afford to make the fixes the pools need.

The school district and the city each use the pools about 25 percent of the time they’re in operation, and community groups use them the other 50 percent of the time, a presentation to be offered to the school board on Tuesday says. Both the district and the city pay close to half of the roughly $329,000 annual cost to operate the pools with community groups chipping in $20,000, though their expired agreement to operate the pools required the district to pay 60 percent of the pools’ maintenance costs and 100 percent of capital improvement costs.

Also on the board’s agenda Tuesday night is a discussion about the district’s master plan. District officials are saying they’ve re-started the planning process for in-district magnet schools, which stalled after the Measure E parcel tax initiative failed; revised applications will be sought from schools starting this month, and the board will consider them in June. As part of the plan, the district is also set to keep a seven-period day at its middle schools, a staff presentation says.

The board will also consider a supplemental retirement plan designed to encourage district staffers to retire early. The plan will allow teachers and other certificated employees who are 55 or older and have worked in the district a decade or more to retire with 70 percent of their current pay over the next five years. Classified employees who are 50 or older and have worked with the district for five years or more would get the same deal if they retire by June 30.

The board’s public meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Alameda High School cafeteria, corner of Oak and Walnut streets.

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