TERRE HAUTE —
The Vigo County School Board is making some changes to allow greater community input on a proposed centrally located swimming pool facility to replace the district’s three aging pools at county high schools.
A 6 p.m. July 22 public hearing on the project has been converted to a presentation and public comment session, and the school board meeting site has been moved to Sarah Scott Middle School to accommodate a larger audience than the downtown board room.
Instead of a hearing, a necessary legal step in the process, the administration will make a comprehensive presentation to explain to the public why it is recommending construction of one new swimming facility rather than renovation of three existing ones.
After the presentation, the board will ask the public to comment on the proposal.
“The administration will make a very clear presentation of the project with as many details as possible,” said Paul Lockhart, school board president. “Then, there will be ample opportunity for those who want to speak for, or against, it or have questions.”
Information will be presented on the tax rate impact, which Lockhart said would be neutral because some bond issues will be paid off and go off the tax rate.
District officials also will point out that the new facility would have a curriculum component.
Superintendent Dan Tanoos stated at the last school board meeting that with a new facility, there would no longer be swim classes offered as part of the high school curriculum. There has been discussion about having learn-to-swim programs for children at an early age.
With the July 22 presentation, “hopefully the project will become much clearer to everyone,” Lockhart said. “We felt it was prudent to do the extra step and allow more opportunity for public input before we move forward with the public hearing.”
After a public hearing, the board would vote on a resolution that — if approved — advances the project.
Tanoos was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
District officials have said the swimming pools at Terre Haute North Vigo, Terre Haute South Vigo and West Vigo high schools are in poor condition and in need of renovation.
“After significant study by the administration, a single site, centrally located facility appears to be the most cost-effective alternative to renovation at all three high school sites,” according to information provided to school board members at their last meeting.
The cost of the new swimming facility is estimated at between $8 million and $9 million, and the district proposes to finance it by issuing general obligation bonds.
The school the district has cited $10 million to $13 million as the cost range to replace the existing pools.
A centrally located swim facility could also bring opportunities for swim clubs and swimming events, school officials have said.
Should a new swim facility come to fruition, the three existing pools would be closed and the space repurposed into classrooms or other uses.
Officials also have pointed out that even if existing pools were renovated, they would not meet today’s standards for swimming competition.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.