Group will consist of parents, teachers, business members, city and district officials and coaches
by Derrick Williams
On one side of the discussion are people who view Lakeville’s aquatic
situation as unfair and argue it creates holes in the school district’s
On the other side are outspoken residents who say the recession and
gloomy economy make now a bad time to look at building pools.
In the middle seems to be the Lakeville School Board, which as a group
decided on July 14 to form a 20-person task force charged with creating
“an aquatic facility strategy that is focused on curriculum,
co-curricular and community needs.”
Superintendent Gary Amoroso said he hopes to get a “turn-key solution”
from the group, which he expects to begin its work in August and
present its findings to the school board in December.
The current state of the district’s aquatic situation is subpar for both extracurriculars and the district’s own curriculum.
The district has a diving well at McGuire Middle School and pools at both Kenwood Trail Middle School and McGuire.
But McGuire’s pool isn’t up to snuff for competition or practice,
forcing high school teams, the community education programs and the
community’s South Metro STORM Swim Club to use the pool at Kenwood
Trail. The high school swimming teams’ diving members remain at McGuire
for practice — split from their swimming teammates.
Meanwhile, Century Middle School doesn’t have a pool and has had to
make do without the swimming portion of its physical education
A plan the district floated to the Minnesota Department of Education,
or MDE, would bring a diving well to Kenwood Trail Middle School to go
with the eight-lane pool the school already has, and a new competitive
swimming pool and diving well to Century Middle School.
There aren’t hard numbers in hand for what a project might cost, but
the latest official numbers the school district provided to the MDE
estimated the project at $9.6 million.
For some, the idea of discussing the building of pools makes no sense,
considering the district is also discussing closing an elementary
school and cutting teachers and programs to cover budget shortfalls.
Whitey Whitehouse, a Lakeville resident who spoke during the public
comment portion of the meeting, said the pool discussion is confusing.
“What are you doing? Do you want education or entertainment?” he told the board. “We’re in a bad time now.”
School Board Member Jim Skelly said it isn’t so cut and dry.
“Everyone here is trying to control costs — but we’re also in the place
to provide opportunities to students,” Skelly said. “It may not be as
black and white as some people look at it.”
Meanwhile, a group of swim parents who have lobbied the district for a
new pool for years are optimistic the task force will lead to new
The task force will have to look at the multiple ways to fund any
project, Amoroso said, including a tax levy, bonding, presenting it as
a capital project and including private dollars.
The 20-member task force will consist of representatives from the
community at large, students and parents, the Lakeville Chamber of
Commerce, the cities of Lakeville and Elko, district swim coaches, and
school board members, as well as representatives from several other
The plan is to have any decisions made about potential projects finalized by the spring of 2010, Amoroso said.
Originally, the school board had sent a letter to the MDE seeking approval for a lease levy to fund the project.
But on April 27, the district received a letter from the state saying
the district needs to scale back its proposed plans because the
“project goes beyond instructional needs,” and “financing the project
is not appropriate” under the lease levy provisions that state offers.