Tulsa Public Schools to consider closing half its pools
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
1/01/13 at 4:48 AM
Tulsa Public Schools officials are recommending the closure of half of the district's 24 swimming pools as a cost-saving measure.
The school board is expected to take up the issue in early January.
Just two months ago, the school district launched a study of pool use to determine how many of its 24 pools were still in use. Administrators knew that some had gone unused for a decade or longer.
"The survey showed us that only two of the 12 that we're recommending be closed could even hold water," said Bob LaBass, executive director of bond projects and utility management at TPS.
Most sites whose pools are recommended to be torn out are elementary schools that previously housed middle schools or junior highs. Webster High School was the only high school on the list.
Wright Elementary School's pool is the only one recommended for closure that is ever used, LaBass added. An outside group leases that school's pool to conduct swim lessons a few times a year, but the $3,000 or so a year in rental revenue doesn't begin to cover the $25,000 a year in operating costs for the pool.
"It's just not cost-efficient," LaBass said.
TPS is grappling with ever-increasing costs for the operation of the pools that are in use due to utility cost increases and new accessibility requirements mandated by the federal government.
LaBass estimates that closing 12 pools could keep $30,000-$40,000 in the district's coffers each year from utility cost savings alone.
Closing the 12 pools included in the recommendation would also keep in reserve $90,000 TPS would have had to spent to install new lifts for disabled people at a cost of $7,500 each. Instead, those funds could be used for needed improvements to the remaining pools, LaBass said.
All but one of the school pools was built in the 1970s or earlier, and that means keeping up with leaks and other plumbing problems is a constant maintenance concern.
There is $2 million budgeted from a 2010 voter-approved bond issue for repairs to pools and pool locker rooms and showers.
If pool closures are approved, those bond funds would be used to repair pools that are in use and to fill in closed pools and convert those rooms into usable classroom space, LaBass said.
TPS floats pool changes
School pools slated for closure
Anderson, Bell, Chouteau,
Gilcrease, Hamilton, Lewis
and Clark, Skelly and Wright
elementary schools; Hale Junior
High School, Webster High
School, and the Nimitz and
School pools slated for handicapped-
lift installation to meet
new federal guidelines
East Central and Memorial
junior high schools; Monroe
Demonstration School; and
Central, East Central, Edison,
Hale, McLain, Memorial and
Rogers high schools
Source: Tulsa Public Schools
Original Print Headline: TPS will consider closing half its pools
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470