MIDDLEBURY — Northridge Middle School will continue to run its swimming pool, as long as the school system is able to bring in more money through the pool to help pay for its operating costs.
The Middlebury School Board agreed at a meeting Tuesday, March 5, that Middlebury Community Schools will secure the funds to refurbish the middle school’s pool equipment and facilities and keep the pool open for student and community use.
Superintendent Jane Allen had presented to the community through public meetings earlier this year how the school system was considering closing the pool.
Northridge Middle School’s pool is almost 25 years old and in need of enough repairs that either all pool equipment needed to be replaced or the facility would be closed and filled in, making the space available for other uses.
The school corporation also took comments and answered questions from the public online.
Allen said they received 68 comments from the public, almost all asking that the pool stay open.
The board approved to pursue upgrading the pool area as long as the facilities rental director and pool directors develop a plan to expand usage opportunities and funding possibilities to supplement the operational costs of the pool by at least 30 percent.
Allen said those could include a small increase in community admission prices to the pool and opening up the facilities to more groups, such as offering swim lessons to those outside the Middlebury community.
With the new equipment, which would be more efficient than the current facilities, Allen estimated operational costs may be right around $100,000, which would mean the pool would need to bring in $30,000 to go to operational costs. School officials won’t know the exact costs until after the equipment is installed and the pool is running with those changes.
“We know it’s doable, or I never would have put it out there,” Allen said.
Several school board members stated that while this was definitely a financial issue, they voted to keep it open because the situation was more about the community’s kids than money.
Allen said that the board will pursue a general obligation bond to cover the costs of the new equipment and that she hopes to begin the work on the pool as soon as possible. Hopefully, work on the pool would be finished soon after the start of school next fall, she said.