High school pool will be Wayland schools’ biggest economic headache

ACHTUNG: The following WHS poolis not “fair and balanced” story. It is an editorial by the editor.

Matt Miner, former vice chairman of the Wayland City Planning Commission and current member of the Wayland Township Planning Commission, once commented that Wayland Union is the poorest rich school district in Michigan.

It may be funny and it may be true.

What we’ve got here in River City, folks, is a public school system that is blessed with an extra $1.5 million in revenue every year, yet it can’t afford to offer healthcare benefits to its lowest paid employees, it pays teachers the second lowest in salaries among districts in Allegan County and class sizes are inching upward slowly, but surely.

The Board of Education’s newest economic headache appears to be the 41-year-old high school pool. It has caused so much consternation over the past dozen years that some people in the know claim that if the pool isn’t given a radical makeover or replaced by a new facility, the pool eventually will have to be closed.

The school board and administration, keenly aware of the gathering storm, earlier this month agreed to look into having Tower Pinkster Architects of Grand Rapids perform a facility needs assessment.

The pool was mentioned early and often in the discussions and it’s not far-fetched at all to come to the understanding that the pool has risen to highest priority status on the list of needs.

To be sure, there is some talk about the football field and tennis courts, but the pool actually has been an economic drain since the state determined it to be inadequate for high school meets because of the shallow depths of the water beneath the starting blocks.

High school swim meets at Wayland High School, as a result, have been almost as rare as visits by State Rep. Cindy Gamrat to Hopkins, Watson and Martin Township meetings.

But the pool is supposed to be much bigger asset than just a place for the swim teams to have interscholastic contests. It is supposed to be one of the best examples of school-community partnerships.

The greater Wayland community is surrounded by plenty of lakes, which despite their contributions to quality of life, can be dangerous and even life threatening to those of us lacking in swimming skills. The pool provides citizens and most importantly their children with services some would argue are priceless.

Furthermore, the pool can provide adults and senior citizens with recreation and relief from some of the aches and pains dealt too many of just by living day to day for so many years.

I’ve been told that just repairing this aging pool, fixing its alarmingly regular breakdowns, leaks and other calamities, could cost the school district as much as a half million dollars. Building a new pool might cost well more than two million dollars.

That latter figure is the stuff of bond issues. Don’t count on Gun Casino revenue to fund a repaired or new pool, Count on the Wayland Board of Education asking the voters of the school district to approve a bond issue within the next two years. About $300,000 each year for a 10-year period is tied up in that science wing addition. And lots of other amenities, such as pay to play and iPads, are handled via casino funds.

So Miner’s caustic comment looks more and more accurate.



1 Comment

  • I’m going back to the ipads, $600,000 plus dollars. lets go to androids, laptops or notebooks. they do the same thing at a third the cost. Now you have plus $300,000 to work on the pool. Better yet lets teach the kids to build a laptop or notebook then they have the knowledge to repair it if it stops working. is’t that what a school is for?

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