The Milton School District has decided to close the pool at Milton High School on March 1 because the HVAC system that serves the pool is on the verge of failure.
At a special school board meeting Monday night, Superintendent Tim Schigur said the system is beginning to break down. The district’s maintenance team has been making manual adjustments to keep it functional, but the system could shut down any day, he said.
Schigur and Stephen Schantz, director of buildings and grounds, concluded the pool was near the end of its life Wednesday after a couple of weeks of discussion, Schigur said.
The district will try to keep the pool open until March 1, but if the system completely breaks down before then, the pool will close immediately, Schigur said.
In a June report, engineers from consulting firm Ramaker and Associates recommended the HVAC system be replaced.
The system is located on a mezzanine level above the pool equipment room and is accessible only by a ladder and a small entrance, Schantz said. Additionally, much of the system cannot be accessed without removing surrounding walls, which would make any work on it expensive and laborious, he said.
Ramaker and Associates estimated it would cost a little more than $1 million to extend the pool’s life by another five to 10 years. A new pool is estimated to cost $7.8 million.
A new pool was included in a $59.9 million draft referendum question, which the board is expected to approve next week for placement on the spring ballot.
If the referendum passes, the district will get a new pool, but it will take a few years for it to be built, Schigur said.
In that case, repairs to the existing pool could be made to keep it operational until a new pool is built. The $1.2 million needed to repair the pool space is already part of the referendum because that space will be repurposed for another use.
Board member Brian Kvapil recommended the board not make any decisions until after the referendum vote in April, but for the pool to be operational in the fall, Daryl Matzke of Ramaker said the district needs to start considering new designs as soon as possible.
The district would need to finalize a plan in March, start taking bids from contractors in April and award a bid in May.
Board members asked district staff to come back to the board with an updated cost estimate for the minimum amount of work needed to keep the pool open.
Schigur said he did not think the cost would go down significantly because building costs are increasing rapidly.
Kvapil also requested options and costs for alternative plans, such as sharing a pool with a nearby community. The high school pool is the only pool in Milton.
People watching the meeting Monday overwhelmingly disapproved of sharing a pool with another community. Many in attendance are involved in Milton swim programs.
Schigur said the district is looking into alternatives but had little time between the meeting and the HVAC system failing to do so.
If voters reject the referendum, the school board will have to decide whether to repair the pool and if so, how to fund the work.
The district can borrow up to $1 million without going to referendum, Schigur said.