By Staff Writers Kikue Higuchi and Anisa Kundu
The FUSD board approved the altered plans for the MSJ pool on Wednesday, December 13. The project now costs $8.1 million and will be funded by the Sale of Site Fund with construction slated to be completed in August 2018, if there are no further complications.
The Design Process
In 2014 the FUSD Board approved plans to replace the MSJ pool facility with an estimated budget of $4.2 million. Before any construction for a public facility could begin, the designs had to be approved by the Division of the State Architect (DSA). For about three years, FUSD went back and forth with the DSA, spending $340,000 on the design process. In fall 2017, the DSA informed the District Office that the plans for the pool were not compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the DSA, the slope of the tiles in the locker room was too great, and there weren’t enough showers or toilets for the projected size of the new pool. The revision required a small structure to be built with the new pool, which would cost an additional $3.9 million.
Proposed Funding Options
During the November meeting, the Board discussed different funding options to cover the escalated cost of the pool. One suggestion was to use the contingency fund. However, the fund exists for emergencies, so using it could jeopardize future projects that may be more time-sensitive. Another suggestion was to use the Proposition 51 rebate from the P-Wing of MSJ, which, coincidentally, gives FUSD $3.9 million. Lastly, the team proposed using Measure E funds, but the District has not received any money from Prop 51 or Measure E yet, making these options less viable.
Proposed Options for the Pool
The board also gave direction to the Office of the Superintendent to investigate different options for a shared pool and its costs. The alternative projects were to repair MSJ’s pool, build a pool at Irvington instead of MSJ, or to repair Irvington’s pool. Another concern was that delaying the construction of any pool would result in increased costs. Associate Superintendent Raul Parungao said, “Any place where there is a disaster, they’re going to rebuild [in reference to the North Bay fires]… There will be more demand for material, lumber, steel, any type of construction material. There will be more demand for laborers… This means we will be competing, and if there is more demand the price will go up.”
The cost of repairing MSJ’s pool was $5.83 million and the cost of repairing Irvington’s pool was $4.36 million. The cost of replacing Irvington’s pool was $9.45 million, which was about $1.3 million more than the MSJ pool project, since Irvington’s current locker rooms do not comply with ADA requirements either.
On November 3, Public Informations Officer Mike Hall sent out a survey his staff prepared to the MSJ and Irvington communities through their principals. However, four days later, the principals of each school sent out a forwarded message from Superintendent Kim Wallace that explained the board would not have access to the results of the survey because FUSD had not clarified the survey’s purpose. In her email, Wallace said, “The survey you received on the Mission San Jose Pool Project on Monday was forwarded to sites in error while it was still in draft form, and inadvertently gave the impression that we were soliciting ‘votes’ for different options, when the intention was simply to ask for community input… While a survey might gather the greatest quantity of responses, it could not necessarily communicate the complexity of the situation effectively.”
The Final Board Meeting
The audience at the December Board Meeting consisted mostly of Hopkins parents, MSJ parents, MSJ students, and MSJ alum. The community was aware that this was the last chance they had to secure a new pool before the current bid expired in December 2017. As the board signaled the start of the discussion on the pool, the MSJ community waved their “Yes to New MSJHS Pool Now!” flyers and applauded for each of the 14 speakers. Notable speakers included MSJ Alumnus Michael Conn who had taken part in the water polo and swim teams at MSJ during all four years of his high school career before graduating in 2016, and MSJ Booster Club President Danielle Raha, who said, “When you [the board] approved the funding for the pool in September 2015, you made a promise to the Mission community as well as Irvington. You need to fulfill your promise and not teach the students that it’s okay not to follow through on promises.” Irvington’s coaches also came out to support the construction of a pool in FUSD, regardless of its location.
After the public speakers expressed their opinions, the trustees entered into a lengthy discussion about the how the pool would be funded. Trustee Larry Sweeney voiced his support for the pool immediately, while Trustees Ann Crosbie and Michele Berke were hesitant. They did not want the additional funds to come from Measure E or the rebate money from the P-Wing because the District did not physically have that money yet. Trustee Desrie Campbell suggested using the Sale of Site Fund for the project, which comes from the sale of property owned by the District and currently has $27 million. Trustee Michele Berke then moved to approve the updated plans for the replacement of MSJ’s pool using only the Sale of Site Fund. Trustee Larry Sweeney seconded. The motion was then approved by unanimous decision. The audience waved their flyers one last time and applauded in approval.
Graphic courtesy FUSD board, photo by Staff Writer Kikue Higuchi