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Lake Washington school board approves allocating funds to city partnership for pool | Update
The Lake Washington School District board unanimously passed a resolution on Sept. 9 that will allocate funds from a 2008 bond measure to go toward a new swimming pool somewhere in Kirkland if the current bond measure passes this February 2014.
The current bond measure includes $755 million in funding for the modernization of Juanita High School and many other schools, but excludes funding for replacement of the high school’s pool - the Juanita Aquatic Center.
However, if voters pass the bond, school board members solidified their commitment to partner with the city of Kirkland or other private entities by redirecting unspent phase two modernization dollars “to fund a portion of pool projects, which will enable use by high school swim and dive teams for practice and competition,” Resolution No. 2166 states.
District spokeswoman Kathryn Reith said the remaining funds from the 2008 bond measure for phase two modernization could be between $10-$12 million, adding not all of the funds would go toward a potential pool partnership.
If the current bond does not pass, left over phase 2 modernization funds would go toward additional portables and other temporary student housing within schools instead.
Thousands of passionate students, swimmers and families rallied against the the district’s proposed bond via their community Facebook page “Save Juanita Pool.” Many were concerned that if the pool wasn’t included in the bond, they would permanently lose their chance at a year-round public pool in Kirkland, which is what the Juanita Aquatic Center provided.
Juanita High School could lose their pool as early as 2017 if the bond passes.
At a school board meeting on Aug. 5, about 50 student swimmers and family members wearing orange filled the board room to attempt to persuade board members to rethink the proposed bond measure.
Nearly all five school board members were saddened by the loss of the pool but cited lack of funds as a driving force behind their unanimous vote.
But board members told the crowd to go home and wash their orange shirts that evening because they would need them again the next night during a Kirkland City Council meeting.
According to a Park Board memo, members of the school board and concerned citizens attended a recent council meeting to ask the city to address this issue. The council scheduled further discussion for the Sept. 17 meeting.
Jennifer Schroder, director of the Kirkland Parks and Community Services, said staff has recommended the Council amend their work plan to include the pool, which will be discussed at the next Council meeting.
Schroder said at this time no funds have been identified nor has a location for a potential pool, but a few years ago there were discussions including a full community center, pool included, during the 2035 comprehensive plan update.
“Right now, we’re just going through the public process and reaffirming what the public wants,” Schroder said.
If all goes according to plan and voters pass the 2014 bond, the school board would require a formal public hearing in order to repurpose the unspent funds toward the partnership.
District officials were not available for immediate comment on how much funds from the 2008 measure will go towards a new swimming pool. The Reporter will update this story when more information becomes available.