By Kristen Townsend Wallman
Is it responsible to build a swimming pool in your backyard if you can’t afford to fix your home’s leaky roof? Most homeowners would probably say, no.
Yet, with $443 million dollars in facility improvement needs, Davis School Board Trustees made the decision to spend $8 million on a swimming pool, leaving other critical repair projects undone.
Students at the Valley Oak campus were sent home during the school day last week because of a break in an old water line.
Valley Oak campus is home to Da Vinci Charter Academy as well as the Children’s Center—the state-funded preschool for children referred through Child Protective Services, families who are homeless, children who are at risk due to neglect or abuse, and children who qualify for special education preschool. These are students and families who are no less deserving of quality learning facilities than coaches, students, and parents who want their very own brand-new swimming pool.
According to school records, approximately 78 students were involved in aquatic sports in the 2017-2018 school year. By contrast, projects at facilities within which hundreds of students are educated did not make the prized First Priorities list. These projects are, thus, not expected to be funded by the to-be-approved $150 million facilities bond.
Allocating scarce resources in a fiscally responsible way is a critical part of being a Trustee. Does the pool facility decision meet that standard?
We learned during last week’s board meeting that ballot language will be “flexible” so that present and future board members will be able to re-prioritize facility needs after the bond passes. However, the pool decision makes me question whether flexibility is such a good idea.
I’m curious how the School Board weighed the costs and benefits of the pool against the district’s other unmet facility needs.
I didn’t read about the ongoing expenditures associated with maintaining the pool. Have the all-encompassing costs and benefits really been analyzed?
Providing an equitable education for all includes properly maintaining the facilities that house critical educational programs serving all sorts of students. $8 million for a new aquatic facility, plus the ongoing cost of safety and maintenance, for the convenience of a handful of students, doesn’t strike me as equitable.
School Board Trustees, please revisit adding a pool facility and other facility maintenance needs.
I think we can do better than this.