TPS Pulls Plug On Swimming Pools Draining District Resources

Monday, January 7th 2013, 9:40 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa Public Schools is dropping a big financial drain, voting Monday to close half of the district's pools after sinking thousands into maintenance each year.

Closing twelve pools in the district will save at least $25,000 a year.

Only one of those pools is currently being used and the money TPS was getting for private swim lessons there wasn't enough to cover the cost to keep it open.

"We are just having to watch our nickels and pennies," said TPS Director of bond projects, Bob LaBass.

The district is closing half its pools and this one at Nimitz is a perfect example why.

"The tile is cracked, we've tried to patch the leak several times. If you look up at the ceiling, all the metal is corroded because of the chemicals you have to deal with all the time," LaBass said.

At the school board meeting Monday, the district voted to close the pools at these schools:

Anderson Elementary
Bell Elementary
Chouteau Elementary
Gilcrease Elementary
Hale Junior High
Hamilton Elementary
Lewis and Clark Elementary
Nimitz Site
Roosevelt Site
Skelly Elementary
Webster High School
Wright Elementary

Many of them are at schools that have been converted into elementary schools, where swimming isn't part of the curriculum. Some of the pools haven't been used in more than ten years.

Maintenance problems are the main issue, as well as utility and upkeep costs that the district has been drowning in for decades.

"When we re-roofed Edison, the roof above the pool, the metal joints were almost totally rusted out, so that's what you have to look at and deal with all over the place," LaBass said.

With tight budgets, the decision was simple for TPS.

LaBass said it came down to, "Do you want to have a French teacher or an open pool?"

The area at Nimitz will be turned into two classrooms and part of the library. The district plans to turn all of the old pools into teaching space.

The district will soon install handicap ramps into the 12 pools that are staying open. The new Americans with Disabilities Act requirements will cost at least $65,000.