190117_POOL

The Milton School Board gave district staff the go-ahead Wednesday to start planning repairs for the Milton High School pool.

MILTON

The Milton School District can start planning upgrades for the high school pool, which officials have said will close March 1 because of failing mechanical systems.

The school board Wednesday night unanimously gave district staff the go-ahead to start the planning process.

If construction goes as anticipated, the pool could be open as soon as August, right before the Milton Red Hawks girls swim season, according to documents from Ramaker & Associates, an engineering firm that conducted a June study on the pool’s condition.

Diamond McKenna was the only board member who did not attend the meeting.

The planning process will begin before the April 2 election, when voters will choose whether to pass a $59.9 million capital referendum that will improve a number of district facilities.

Wednesday’s vote means district staff can begin ordering parts and drawing designs for pool upgrades. The pool is slated to close by March 1 because of a failing HVAC system and other problems.

If the referendum passes, the district will build a new pool, but it will take a few years to build, Superintendent Tim Schigur has said.

Repairing the pool will bridge the gap, but planning has to start now to get it operational for next school year, officials have said. If the board had opposed repairing the pool Wednesday, Milton would not have had a pool until a new pool was approved by voters and constructed.

The referendum calls for refurbishing the existing pool into new space, which means the HVAC system and other fixes would have to happen no matter what. They are already budgeted for in the referendum, officials have said.

Ramaker & Associates estimate it will cost $881,595 to keep the pool afloat for a few years.

The district has to dedicate some money toward the pool now to get the ball rolling, Schigur said.

The money initially will come from the district’s maintenance budget. If the referendum passes, the maintenance budget can be restored with money borrowed through the referendum, Schigur said.

If the referendum does not pass, the board must find alternative funding for the fixes, which will leave the district “in the red” until it finds a solution, Schigur said.

The district could take money from its fund balance or borrow up to $1 million without approval from voters, as allowed by state law.

The high school pool is the only pool in Milton and provides programming for both students and the community.

The Milton Marlins youth swim club, morning lap swim, summer swim lessons, birthday party rentals, Special Olympics events, the Milton Mile Swim fundraiser, alumni swims and other programs will not be offered during construction.

High school athletic teams will not be able to use the pool for rehabilitation and team workouts. The girls swim team also must find a different facility for summer practice or training.

Reporter - Milton, Edgerton, Albany, Brodhead, Evansville, Footville, Orfordville, health

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