Plans for the pool were discussed at the AUSD’s Facilities Study Session on Tuesday, June 14
ATASCADERO — Plans for the Atascadero High School (AHS) pool were discussed at the Facilities Study Session held by the Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) after its board meeting on Tuesday, June 14. The pool, which has been an item of speculation from the community, was talked about in detail during the study session.
“So our high school pool, I’m going to call it the journey. The journey began in February 2019,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Jackie Martin. “We did prior to that have some failure: The heater, and some things broke at the pool, so it got highlighted. Back in February 2019, the board did approve the district to move forward with seeking architectural services. So that’s three years ago. It was quite a process, we had a pandemic in the middle of there, but we did bring to the board in June of 2020 an actual architectural agreement that the board did approve.”
She went on to state that there were updates from February to March of 2020 and even after that regarding where the AUSD was in the process.
“To date, we have expended about $530,000 on planning, architectural, testing, surveys, all those things that you need to do to develop plans,” added Martin.
The district has committed, in total, $670,000 to date on a pool replacement.
“Our plans are done, and they’re up at the Department of State Architects (DSA),” said Martin.
“October 4  is when they [the plans] were submitted,” said Executive Director of Bond/Facilities Brant Lloyd on how the process works. “They went into the initial read-through period, and they [the DSA] look that over, and then they make some comments and send it back to us for what’s called ‘fact-check.’ So we then identify all of the comments and answer the questions and then resubmit to them so that they then evaluate our comments.”
The DSA has three pillars when addressing builds, according to Lloyd. It weighs in on Structural Safety, Access Compliance, and Fire Life Safety.
“Fire Life Safety is approved. Access Compliance is approved. Structural is where we’re stuck,” Lloyd said. “So they got reviewed initially, they’ve been fact-checked reviewed, and then they’ve issued more comments based on that fact-check review, and now we’re trying to identify the answers to those.”
Though the school district is past the formal submission stage, the plans will not be approved until the back and forth between the DSA and AUSD is completed, with the DSA being satisfied. The plans currently submitted are for the exact pool that would be built down the line.
Once the approved plans are back and in the hands of the AUSD, the next step will be going to bid, which is the only way to know what the final cost of building the pool would be. The district would not move forward without board approval on the final contractor bid for the project.
Some board members stated their apprehension about growing inflation rates.
“Our obligation is to go out and then get a competitive bid from a reputable contractor and then inform you of what that looks like,” said Superintendent Tom Butler. “As well as making sure you [the board] feel confident in securing the funds for anything that you’re going to consider.”
Katy Pollington, a mother of an AHS student, addressed the trustees. She asked the board if the pool was already funded or if the AUSD have funds committed and asked them to explain the difference.
“At a regular board meeting, when the board votes, then that’s when something becomes funded,” Butler said. “So they [the board] have already funded the architectural portion of this pool project. When we talk about the construction of it, if you heard Mrs. Martin talking about going out to bid, securing information from contractors about a cost to that. That won’t be funded until the board would take another formal action at a formal board meeting.”
Jon Conrad, the head coach of the boy’s water polo program at the high school, also addressed the board regarding the pool.
“I’m here to express my hope that the new pool, even though money is significant, is a top priority for facilities in Atascadero,” said Conrad. “I’ve been involved in aquatics for over 40 years, I started when I was 5, and I’ve been to countless pools. I’ve never seen a pool in greater need of being replaced than our own pool at the high school.”
He went on to say that there would be nothing but benefits to the community in having a new pool and that without one, it’s hard to teach water safety to the students in the AUSD and other Atascadero locals.
This is a developing story, and we will be back with updates.