$3.7M in State Matching Funds Could Go Toward Project

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Unified School District board of trustees voted unanimously at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 4, to start the search for an architect to design and place a new swimming pool at Atascadero High School.

There is currently no funding in place for the pool but according to AUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Jackie Martin, that could be changing soon. Martin said that once the State Office of Public School Construction finishes auditing $3,771,792 in matching funds paid by the state for two of the district’s recent modernization projects, those funds could go toward the pool project.  

“We’re saving it until the state says ‘It’s really yours,’” Martin said. “So there’s some opportunity and we do want to be ready to go once we can figure out all of the funding sources.”

AUSD Superintendent said that the district has been working with project managers at Kitchell and meeting with stakeholders in the pool project to determine what some of the project parameters should look like. 

“They (Kitchell) bring people together to hear our initial ideas, what we need for the education programs, how we’ll use it for P.E., how we’ll use it for different aquatic sports…” Butler said. “From those meetings — we’ve done that, we’ve gathered all that so now we have the information to begin working with an architect.” 

While some of the trustees expressed a hesitancy to approve the step without knowing more about what the architect’s plans would look like, Butler and Martin both assured them that they would have ample opportunities to review the plans before anything is finalized. 

“Remember, we have a failing pool,” Martin said. “We just had another issue where we had to shut down the pool because we had to buy some part for it again. So there is some concern that we have a failing pool and at some point in time it’s going to be unoperational again and we’re just trying to be poised and ready.” 

Board Trustee Terri Switzer said that she would like to see a realistic plan brought back to the board for approval. 

“Are we going to keep it a little more down to earth and say ‘this is what we can do?’” Switzer said. “Instead of “God isn’t this great,’ and then ‘Well, we can’t do that.’ Are we going to keep it simple? I don’t mean to be simple-minded but why spend all the money with the architect to draw these plans that can never happen?” 

Butler assured Switzer that the plans would be as realistic as possible and operate “within our financial constraints.” 

“We want to do it wisely, do it realistic and we want to have a really nice quality complex that performs well but it doesn’t have to be some sort of huge, larger development.”

Switzer replied, “That’s what Morro Bay is — it’s stupid.”

Trustee Corinne Kuhnle also called for more information on the project. 

“Because I’m really nervous,” she said. “I’m nervous about several things because when you don’t have this information, then we hear stories that are floating around that make me nervous,” she said. “So as a Trustee, I’d really appreciate knowing the direction that you’re proposing that we take.” 

Butler said that most of the details that came out of the initial meetings between Kitchell and the stakeholders concerned very preliminary, logistical information about where the pool might be placed and why. 

“There’s a variety of those types of things that would secure the pool so that it’s safe when we have it closed — how do we set it and arrange it so it has the right access in and out of the locker rooms, those types of things,” he said. “I think you’ll find that it’s all very realistic but I do think it would be nice for us to come back and share what those things generated.” 

The board voted unanimously to move forward with issuing a Request for Proposals to find an architect for the project and Butler agreed to bring more information about the project to the Trustees at their next meeting. 

“You had asked us to pursue this and we’re trying to get the timing right,” Butler said. “We know that we have a pool that’s on its last legs, we also know that we don’t have the funding secured and you’ve made it very clear that we’re going to wait until we secure a real viable, full funding for the project. You’ve also talked about how things are going to be more expensive in five years and if we can get ahead of it and get things positioned, maybe that timing can come together. So that’s why we’re still bringing it forward.”

Getting through this together, Atascadero