The board voted 6-0,
with board member Gregg Crandall absent, to terminate the memorandum of understanding with the city of Tracy. The district will likely use $1.4 million left over from Measure E — a $51 million school bond passed by Tracy voters in 2006 — to pay the city, which is entitled to the costs of the community buildings and 25 percent of the final construction costs and design and construction management costs, according to the agreement.
The decision was met with some resistance from representatives of youth swim groups, who worried that the proposed change would result in higher pool fees.
Marsha McCray, of the Tracy Tritons Swim Club, read a letter into the record from Tritons Pres-ident Molly Lowe, whose group rents the pool.
In the letter, Lowe reminded the board that the Tritons have used TUSD pools for more than 13 years. She said that in 2000, there was no charge to use the pools, and this year, it cost $368 for one swimmer to be a part of the Tritons.
“It makes us sad that we have to charge that much money to provide an opportunity for swimming in our community,” McCray read.
At an Aug. 12 meeting, the TUSD facilities and planning director, Bonny Carter, told the board that once the district had full control of the pool, it would increase the charge to use it from $36 an hour to $175 an hour.
Lowe, in her letter, asked that the issue of fees be placed on the agenda for a future board meeting so the trustees could hear from the various swim groups in the city. Lowe also recommended spending the $1.4 million to improve other school facilities — increasing the pool at Tracy High School to regulation size, for example — rather than buying out the city’s interest in the pool at West High.
“The fact that sports teams might not be able to utilize the only 50-meter pool in our town, because it will no longer be under control of the city, is really distressing,” McCray said, reading from the letter. “We have to make facilities reasonable and affordable.”
Sandra Walther, a member of the Tritons swim team who graduated from Millennium High School in May, advised the board to reconsider raising the fees. She said the burden of higher costs would fall upon the parents of swimmers, which could mean fewer options for Tracy children.
A member of the committee that worked to pass Measure E, Michel Bazinet, told the trustees that they needed to be open about how the money from the fees would be spent.
After they had all spoken, board President James Vaughn suggested that they should be looking to the city to build swimming pools for the community. When he was growing up in San Francisco, he said, the city provided amenities such as neighborhood pools.
“We do value the swimmers of Tracy,” Vaughn said. “However, as our role as a school district, we have to serve our students first. The students of West High, that is their pool.”
Trustee Kelly Lewis stressed that the board was voting only on the buyout on Tuesday.
“We’re not looking at fees tonight,” he said. “We are going to come up with something that is fair and reasonable. We are just talking about taking back control of the pools. We have no plans to eliminate all the youth groups. We will be re-evaluating the fees. We’re going to get input from the swim groups.”
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