Paso Robles school board halts aquatic center project

January 24, 2019

Amid budget woes, the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District is putting on hold an aquatic center project pushed by the district’s recently departed superintendent that is now costing significantly more than previous projections. [Tribune]

Last month, Superintendent Chris Williams left the district abruptly less than four months after receiving a new contract with a base salary of about $215,000. Williams’s departure came around the same time school officials revealed the district was faced with a $2.1 million shortfall for the 2019-2020 fiscal year and an additional $800,000 shortfall in 2020-2021.

The district’s reserves also depleted over Williams’s tenure from about 10 percent of the general fund to 1.73 percent, which is below a state-mandated minimum reserve level. Nonetheless, Williams received $113,409 in severance pay.

Partially funded by a $95 million bond measure approved by voters in 2016, the aquatic center project was initially estimated to cost $10.57 million. In Feb. 2018, Williams said the project would cost $8.2 million.

On Tuesday, the district presented bids submitted by two contractors. The bids came in between $11 million and $12.7 million, prompting school board members to decide to table the project.

Back when Williams said the project would cost $8.2 million, the district planned to fund the aquatic center using $5.7 million of bond money while obtaining the remaining $2.5 million from fundraising. The district expected to raise $750,000 before a planned groundbreaking on the aquatic center last April, for which Williams and other officials posed with shovels for Paso Robles Press photos. By November, though, the district had only raised $211,000, according to an informational flier.

Even though the now-stalled project is behind schedule and over budget, the district has already purchased parts for a 50-meter pool and a 25-meter pool, which sit in storage containers near Paso Robles High School. The district also spent $362,828 on site cleanup.

Officials are now weighing options, which include selling pool parts that have already been purchased or holding on to them until the school district is ready to move forward with the project. If the district were to sell the pool parts, it would likely do so at a 20 to 25 percent loss.

Project plans initially called for two pools, bleachers a locker room, restrooms, solar water heating and a concession stand. The site of the planned aquatic center is the Paso Robles High campus.

Proponents of the project say the city pool, which Paso Robles schools currently use, is inadequate for aquatics, particularly water polo. Water polo requires deep water, rather than a pool with a shallow end. Supporters of the planned aquatic center are angry over the project being stalled.

The school board instructed district staff on Tuesday to bring the project back for consideration after the hiring of a new superintendent.

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Maybe the Board and the Bozo from Clovis hired by the Board and all the new Administrators hored by the Bozo could all pay into a fund and Pay for the difference between the approved bid and the actual bid along with all the overages. Seems fair!

Severance pay should only be for public employees that have been guillotined.

Sounds like a great project for a resort .High school is not a resort I have never seen a job ad looking for a waterpolo swimmer .High school is prep for life ahead not how to play sports usually a young person if into sports has played on after school soccer baseball etc teams before high school so they have already done some work on their team player skills .Paso high doesn’t even have a football field but yet has a football team

Not surprising that people working in the public sector get themselves in financial trouble as most of them seem incompetent when it comes to managing money. Especially other people’s money (Taxpayers!). Just witness the underfunded retirement fund debacles that the state and many cities have created for themselves (Oh I mean for US! – the Bastards!) by money mismanagement.

At least these board members had the courage to realize they couldn’t afford this project and the guts to stop it.

wait! a publics work project that costs more than the estimates?!?!? must have used the folks doing the projections for the HSR.

time for another bond measure!