Will the District Add a Pool to Davis High School?

from the Facilities Master Plan presentation

The school board is still somewhat early in their facilities Master Plan process.  Last fall, they authorized LPA Inc. architects to create an updated Facilities Master Plan for the Davis Joint Unified School District.

In their report, they identified about $443 million in project costs.  To fund that, LPA projects that there is sufficient bonding capacity to issue about $150.9 million over three series between 2018-19 and 2022-23.

The district is looking at a potential facilities bond in November 2018 that could help fund the capital needs for the school district.

On Thursday, in addition to receiving the report from LPA, the school board listened to nearly an hour and a half of public comment – 90 percent of which pushed for the district to add a pool to Davis High School.

Doug Wright, who coaches the girls water polo team, called for an aquatics center at the high school.  He said, “We support the facilities bond.  Our hope is that the pool will be built at the high school with funds raised with a positive vote on the bond.”

He pointed out that with all the success of the aquatics program with thousands of races and many victories, “not one has been contested at the high school.”  He added, “We believe that swimming is not just a sport, but a healthy life skill that needs to be taught and learned by all.”

Stephanie LaPuz is the parent of three competitive swimmers.  She said that she moved her family to Davis for the public schools and aquatics.  “In our house, aquatics has been a road to college.  It’s a means to get into colleges that are very competitive.

“A new pool would support the entire community,” she said.

Hans Strandgaard noted that he and his kids have swum in Davis’ pools but also traveled to other communities where they have newer and larger pools than in Davis.  “It’s sad that such a successful high school program such as Davis does not have its own pool,” he said.

This wasn’t just an academic question, however.  The lack of a pool has meant challenges for both the program and the student athletes.

“There is one major commitment to swimming and that’s time,” one student said.  “What a pool on campus would do would be that we could have swim practice right after school.  That would prevent swimmers from having a one or two hour gap between school and swimming during which it is really difficult to get yourself to do homework.”

One of the coaches pointed out that swimming, diving, and water polo have them “required to travel five miles off campus in order to attend the practices and competition.”   He quipped, “There is no other sport at Davis High that has to do that except for the golf team – because there’s no golf course on campus.”

He explained that because there is no on-campus facility, “I am required to negotiate with other teams and other programs to reserve two hours of pool time a day.”    He said, “It’s all the over the place.  We get pool time starting at four and it goes as late as maybe 9 or 10 at night sometimes.  It’s very inconsistent. ”

He said it is hard for students and parents to plan their lives around that inconsistent schedule.

He pointed out that the program is successful but the athletes don’t get the recognition they deserve because there is no competition on campus.  At Arroyo, where they often practice – the starting blocks and lane lines are broken.  There is no weight room either.

Tanya Harris, the parent of three children, pointed out that some of the programs require her kids to have to practice until 10 at night.  She said this “means because the pools are so impacted, the high school programs get pushed to the spaces that are available.”  She said if your child is playing water polo until 10, they don’t get home until 10:30, they don’t get in bed until 11 “and they have to turn around and go right back to school the next morning.  It doesn’t make for a very good environment the next morning when they’re half asleep because they had to practice so late.

“My kids love water polo, they love swimming, but they want to be able to do it at a reasonable hour,” she said.

Another parent pointed out, “We lack enough proper pool facilities for recreational sports teams activities.  Having to limit practice times and running practices to 10 pm on school nights is just not a workable long term solution.  This runs counter to the district goal to increase sleep through later school start times.”

He added, “The school’s only available pool is too small for regular high school competition.”

Another coach pointed out they have 120 athletes on the team and usually give them two hours of practice time.  Moreover, he added, “If every athlete were to show up, we would have well over ten athletes in every single lane of that pool.  Thankfully they don’t show up for every single practice.

“That’s not helpful for training and kids getting something out of it,” he said, pointing out a lane is four feet by 25 yards long.

Others pointed out that to compete for water polo at Arroyo Pool, they have to use the kiddie pool to warm up, which is three feet deep and they scrape their hands on the bottom.

Cody Hargadon, a student, pointed out that they have one of the most successful programs on the campus, but no onsite facility.  “No Blue Devil has had the opportunity to race on our own campus.  Our woman’s swim team has won the most section titles in all of sports at DHS…  When we practice, we work hard for Davis High.   When we race, we compete for Davis High.  When we win, we win for Davis High.  But we still have to travel to an offsite location to swim for Davis high.”

A pool at Davis High would cost somewhere between $8 million and $9 million.  The board heard the presentation on the Facilities Master Plan, which they could finalize sometime in June and make a decision as to whether to put a facilities bond on the ballot for November.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Howard P

    Two thoughts:

    1.  Pool complex is a “want”, not a “need”

    2.  If it is built, DJUSD will make it available to the public, when not ‘needed’ by DJUSD teams, if the City agrees to pay all operational, maintenance, and repair/replacement costs.

    Here is a perfect example of where it is one thing to build something, quite another to operate, maintain, repair, and eventually replace it.  Hope someone knowledgeable, and honest, comes up with the numbers for the life-cycle costs…

    1. Howard P

      Yeah… read that… says nothing re:  on-going costs… and who pays… 50-50 bet that the DJUSD looks to the City to cover @ least 50% of the capital costs, as well… like the City is swimming in money… guess we’ll see if the special interests can get the CC to dive in… and get soaked for capital and O&M costs…

      After all, “it”s for the kids”…

    1. Howard P

      I thought that was Civic Center pool… you may be correct, though… Community Park pool was an off-site facility (from DJUSD) that either DJUSD or AquaDarts or Masters seemed to own, as priority #1 for their programs… now Arroyo…

    2. Mark West

      The logical place to put a new 50M pool is in place of the current Community Pool complex. That is where the High School teams used to practice and compete and it is well situated. This would be an excellent opportunity to create a public/private partnership between the City, the School District and the local aquatics groups, with operations in the hands of the non-profits. In addition to the obvious benefits of collaboration, the new complex would likely allow the City to close down the Civic Pool, both saving the costs of operations of that pool, and opening that space to redevelopment.

      1. Howard P

        “partnership” with DJUSD, over the last 35 years = DJUSD benefits, City of Davis pays/takes  100% (and liability).

        Some believe that’s appropriate… after all, “it’s for the kids”.

        You know how to get a hold of me for details…

        1. Howard P

          As far as I know, the swim groups, DJUSD, or other, have never “partnered”… as in taking risks or paying true costs…  free or subsidized has been the norm… the swim goups paid “fees” which did not/does not fully reflect actual costs… but they have had high expectations for “service standards”…

        2. Jim Hoch

          I moved from a place where this was very common. However since the city and the school district had the same boundaries it was all ultimately coming from the same set of pockets.


          As cities have more flexibility in taxation it was often more convenient to raise funds through the city to pay for shared resources or the city would pay rent to the school district. The people were slightly less educated but they were a whole lot smarter about getting things done.

          I’m not aware of the history of why the Aqua Darts seem to rule the pool. Did they offer to pay for upkeep at some point?

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