When I was appointed by the Garfield County School District to be the new Superintendent, some of the first problems I encountered were the Panguitch Pool and the Escalante Well project. I am going to address the Pool in this article and the Escalante Well at a later date.
The Panguitch Pool project started August 9, 1977. An agreement was reached between the Garfield County School District and Panguitch City to move forward in building the pool on school property adjacent to and made a part of the existing Panguitch High School gymnasium facilities.
In the contract, Panguitch City agreed to construct the swimming pool. At the time, Panguitch City applied for an Economic Development Administrations grant in the amount of $470,000. I am going to assume the grant or at least a portion of the grant was received at the time.
The agreement also states, ‘Garfield County School District agrees to operate and maintain the swimming pool and make sure it is available for general public use.’ It also states, ‘if the cost of maintaining and operating becomes prohibitive in the future, the City agrees to negotiate with the District regarding possible cost sharing of operations and maintenance expenses.’
If we fast forward to today, the cost of sharing the expense has happened in the past year. Panguitch City donated $11,000, Garfield County donated $3,000 and the Garfield County School District contributed $53,000. This money was utilized to purchase a new pool pump, filters, plastering the pool and replacing ceiling and pool tiles. At the time of the repairs the pool was leaking approximately 59,000 gallons of water per month into the ground.
In the last four months, Garfield School District has been looking for possible solutions for the boiler and ventilation issues. The bids have come in and range from $94,000 to $149,000. This leads us to the question of how much money do we put into the pool? This problem is also complicated by the fact that the Panguitch High School heating system is in desperate need of being replaced. Panguitch High School has a very old boiler with old pipes carrying the hot water to heating coils in the ceiling. Panguitch High School gymnasium is heated with a separate steam heating system. In the spring, the bid to just replace the boiler in Panguitch High was approximately $450,000. We decided to rebid the project with a forced air unit and abandon the boiler option. The bid for heating Panguitch High with forced air is still in the $400,000 range with an additional $133,000 to convert the gymnasium from steam to forced air. As you can see, the costs are extremely expensive but, if the old system is not replaced in the near future we could possibly have flooding problems from broken pipes or if the boiler stops functioning we will not have the ability to heat the building. This is not to mention Bryce Valley Elementary is also in need of a new boiler and it is an older system than the boiler in Panguitch High.
I know whenever the pool costs are mentioned I hear people say we have a “recreational levy” to pay for these costs. Last year the Garfield School District received approximately $118,000 from the recreational tax levy. In years past, some of this money was divided up in the three main communities to be spent on recreational improvements. Last year the majority of the money was spent to pay approximately $80,000 in coaching stipends in the district so you can see this does not leave much wiggle room for recreational funding to solve the problems with financing the pool.
In the School Board Meeting in August I was directed by the board to meet with the city pool manager to come up with a winter schedule for the pool. I met with the manger and presented the winter pool schedule to the board. The schedule was basically opening the pool one week per month trying to make the pool available on the days school would not be held. During the discussion of the schedule, the concerns with the ventilation issues were discussed along with the feasibility of heating the pool for one week a month and then shutting the pool back down. I was directed by the board to postpone opening the pool until additional information could be obtained. Part of the additional information will be presented in School Board Meeting in Panguitch on October 27th. I will review the proposed bids with the options for Panguitch High School and the pool in the next board meeting.
If you would like to participate in a survey on the pool please log onto our District web page. The survey will be through “Survey Monkey” and will allow you to voice your opinion on the issues so please take some time to participate.
Panguitch City and the Garfield School District have worked well together in the past. The City does not charge the Schools for water, baseball fields or wrestling room rental. The School District does not charge the City for internet or support services related to the internet. The School does not charge the City for use of the Elementary fields for soccer games and practices. We are both entities supported by your taxes, when we work together all patrons benefit. I appreciate Panguitch City and their willingness to work with Garfield County School District.
–Superintendent Ben Dalton