STANFORD — Olympia school district's board will decide in coming months what to do with the school’s 50-year-old pool.
Architects are preparing two sets of potential plans, Superintendent Laura O’Donnell said. One is to rehabilitate the pool area, and the other is to fill the pool. The board has not decided either way yet, and has not even seen plans or estimated costs for either potential.
The pool is 50 years old, having opened around the same time as the high school. The main mechanical system for the pool is now also 50 years old and close to failing, Olympia Operations and Maintenance Director Scott Thornton said. The system heats the pool and cools and dehumidifies the air in the room.
“It’s end of life and it could die at any time,” O’Donnell said.
Discussions on further possibilities for the pool started at the December board meeting and have continued at subsequent meetings, including during public comment, meeting minutes show.
The architects, Dewberry Architects, are doing a study on costs for replacing the pool and updating connected facilities such as the locker rooms, floors and lighting, or filling the pool and turning it into a flexible use space while still updating the locker rooms, floors and lighting.
The architects are expected to present at the April school board meeting, with the board to vote in May or possibly later.
Thornton estimated that replacing just the specific system would cost around $1.4 million when all of the installation and parts costs are included.
The pool costs around $15,000 to $20,000 a year in chemical supplies, O’Donnell said.
The Olympia High School swim team averages around 20 total members, she said. Generally the girls team is larger than the boys team.
In addition to the swim team, the pool is also used by the Olympia Country Swimmers, a community swim group that uses the pool several nights a week.
Hillary Leach’s 7-year-old daughter started with OCS in September. At first, they planned to only go to one practice a week or so, but Leach’s daughter has been so excited that they've gone to almost every single practice. Now her 5-year-old son looks forward to starting this fall.
Leach likes that the group does not require great skill to join the team; the students just need to be able to swim 25 yards.
“It doesn’t have to be pretty, they just have to be able to do it without stopping,” she said in an interview with The Pantagraph.
Leach worries the OCS students will be forgotten when the decision is made about the pool. There are around 50 swimmers in the program, she said. She also wishes more attention had been paid to the pool in prior years, as that could have allowed time for fundraising to help with the costs.
“We hope they see the passion these kids have,” Leach said. “(…) We’ve got some very passionate little swimmers who are putting all their hopes in this basket.”
The pool space could be used to supplement existing facilities. Some sports teams already use alternative spaces in the school to practice, and the weight room used for strength and conditioning training is small, O’Donnell said.
With different flooring, the pool area could even be used for something like a basketball court, Thornton said. Having a multipurpose room would allow the space to serve more students.
Still, the pool is a special resource for the school, which is out in the country about four miles from Stanford, O’Donnell said. She knows it has been a draw for some families and past students in choosing to live in the district.