Letter: Is Trustee Flexibility Wrong Approach?

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.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Tia Will

    I have no direct stake in this choice. My daughter was a competitive swimmer but is long past her public school days. It is her current situation that makes me write at all.

    My daughter is currently a science teacher at a public charter school in the Bay Area. She recently had an on line fundraiser for a class project. The amount needed to fulfill her project  was well within my reach so I sent funds to complete the project. She had nine other private donors. So what was the project?  Books. Science books for her class.

    My point? At a time when there are essential needs be they building repairs, science equipment, computers, books, writing materials that teachers are essentially begging for funds for on line, we should think very carefully about needs vs wants. Our trustees must take care to consider the needs not only of those in the room making requests, but those who do not present to argue for their needs.

      1. Howard P

        That gets into a very long narrative… many factors… including finances, size, history, politics, etc.

        Maybe someone can expand, or might be worthy of a DV ‘investigation’… all I know for sure, is that it is “complicated”.

        1. Howard P

          David… your 10:11 question appears to be BS, unless you have ‘special knowledge’ that you haven’t shared… don’t you think? [irony intended]

  2. Richard McCann

    The Community Park pool is overused and in problematic condition. That said, I hope the District has a plan to lease the new pool to other swim programs and the City. There are hundreds of others in local swim programs, and we can use an accessible public pool during the summer.

    1. Howard P

      Yes… would be nice if DJUSD could “partner” with the City, as to use, for swim facilities… has pretty much always been a one-way street… DJUSD has likely never put any money into Community pool maintenance, refurbishing/repair or towards reconstruction.  At least not in proportion to their use of City facilities…

      Their “priorities” lead me towards being disinclined to vote for a bond measure..

    2. Jim Hoch

      Last I checked it held water. I would much rather find a way to share the pool and save the $8M and save the space. Putting in redundant facilities because they cannot solve a scheduling issue seems more than a little ridiculous.

      Anyway Community pool has no open swim hours so it’s a public giveaway to a few local private groups. I’d just as soon that they close it.

      This is the latest on the issue that I can find




      1. Howard P

        Am thinking same is true for Civic Center pool… guessing Arroyo is next unless folk pony up money for a new DJUSD pool, which will probably not be accessible to the public ‘for security/safety/liability’ reasons.

        Might be wrong, but am highly skeptical…

    3. Tia Will


      In problematic condition I understand. How can a pool be “overused”? Do you mean there is too much demand and people are turned away? Or is there some detriment that I am unaware of from more swimmers? Be kind. I know virtually nothing about swimming pool usage.

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