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SISD, city fail to reach agreement on pool

20130425 Bannworth Park Pool AF  0004MISSION — After more than two years of construction, the Bannworth Pool is finally complete, but negotiations between the City of Mission and the Sharyland Independent School District to set terms for the district use of the pool have failed.

This comes despite the presumption by both parties two years ago that the school’s swim teams would use the pool.

The pool has been in the planning since Feb. 22, 2012, when the Mission City Council authorized staff to seek bids on improvements at Bannworth Park, including an enclosed swimming pool and a separate multi-purpose gymnasium for an estimated cost of $2.2 million.

Early in the planning stages, the city and SISD expressed intentions of developing an agreement to share the pool. However, when the pool was near completion and contract negotiations began, SISD had a problem with the city’s proposed contract. SISD went back to the city with a counter agreement that the city refused at their council meeting earlier this month.

Mission’s contract stated:

• SISD would manage the facility in conjunction with the city’s parks and recreations director to schedule city requested activities.

• The city would set operation policies, while SISD would be in charge of the day-to-day operations.

• The school district would be in charge of all repairs and purchases and require the city’s approval before making purchases of over $5,000.

• SISD would develop a specific fund for pool expenses and revenues including admission, training, insurance and salaries.

• All equipment purchased by SISD for the pool operation would be the property of the city, except equipment for UIL-related activities.

SISD’s counter contract stated:

• The school district would exclusively operate, manage and oversee the day-to-day use of Bannworth pool and would not be responsible for rent or usage of the pool, but would be responsible for the payment of utilities.

• The city would be responsible for completion of all repairs and replacement of equipment and provide at least three hours of on-site training on appropriate maintenance.

Additionally, SISD wanted the pool for longer periods of time during the day and the year.

According to the Mission school district’s contract, the city employs an aquatics manager to manage the facility who works under the direction of the city’s parks and recreation director. The city also employs part-time employees whose duties include maintenance of the Mayberry and Northside pools. Salary and benefits of the employees are shared between the city and MCISD. Day-to-day operations and programming of the pools is under the direction of the parks and recreation department.

MCISD is responsible for a swimming coach who handles all school-related activities. The city handles all revenues and expenses, excluding UIL and swim meets. All expenses related to staffing is divided equally between MCISD and the city. Personnel, except for the swimming coach, report to the aquatics manager.

MCISD pays half of all expenses, but the city wanted SISD to pay for all expenses including lifeguards, instructors and any other staff needed to operate the pool and its programs. SISD estimates spending $250,000 per year for maintenance and utilities.

“We could not agree with those terms,” said SISD Superintendent Dr. Virginia Richter of City of Mission’s proposed contract.

The disagreement has led SISD to consider building a natatorium.

Ricky Longoria, board assistant secretary, said that the students of SISD need a pool.

“How do we get there,” he asked.

Longoria said the amount of money the city is asking the district to pay is considerably higher than what they are currently paying to bus students to Nikki Rowe High School. In order to justify spending that amount of money, Longoria said they would need to open the pool to more students, and more concessions were needed from the city.

The board isn’t sure if the district can afford a pool along with all the costs involved with the new high school that will be opening in 2014. A new pool could cost $3 million, administrators said.

Fred Ramirez, vice president, said the board needed to look beyond the need for a pool to all the costs involved and re-evaluate once they have that information.

Juan Zuniga, board member, said the pool isn’t a top priority and should stick with the agreement they have with McAllen ISD.

The board didn’t take action on the agenda item. The board decided it needed more information before taking any further steps.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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