For the past eight weeks, Clemens Community Pool has been shuttered to the public to complete needed work in the locker rooms and poolside with a nonslip deck surface.
Although the Philomath School District’s maintenance staff wrapped up that work in late September, the doors have remained closed to the public. The pool’s regular users want to know what’s going on — at least that’s what the school board heard during the public comment period at its Oct. 21 meeting.
Buzz Brazeau, superintendent of schools, told the board that the last remaining hurdle to reopening involves the presence of a certified pool operator on the staff. The district hired Akari Seiner to take over as the Philomath High swim coach and as the pool director. However, she did need to complete some certification requirements, training that Brazeau said she was beginning early this week.
“The county will not allow us to reopen until we have someone with a CPO,” Brazeau said. “The surface is there, the water is there. Unless there’s something I don’t know about, getting the CPO is the critical thing to reopen.”
As such, it appears it could be only a matter of days for those pool users to be able to jump back in the water.
Carol Leach, who used the pool on opening day in December 1960 and served on the pool advisory committee, spoke to the board during the public comment period and said she represents a community user group. She urged the board to start utilizing resources, including the pool advisory committee, to approach the swimming pool project.
“There are knowledgeable people on that committee — there are users, there are people that know pools,” she said. “You need to start asking them some questions, asking their opinions, getting them involved in what we’re doing with this swimming pool.”
School board member Anton Grube later asked Brazeau directly if there are any plans to bring the committee back into the conversation.
Brazeau said that currently, the district is paying a significant amount of money for the “experts” to look at it. When that information becomes available, then the district will be able to identify options.
“It certainly can be supported by something of that nature,” Brazeau said about the committee.
Said Grube, “There’s passion around the pool and people who are interested in ensuring that the best decisions are made ... I do think looking for a way to involve the community would be valuable.”
Board member Shelley Niemann recommended that the folks that are already in place with the pool advisory committee should be utilized with all of the time and discussion that they have invested.
Jim Kildea, board chair, said he knows information is forthcoming from the professional pool consultants but added that it makes a lot of sense for the community to be informed.
“I would default to the experts as far as their recommendation on what we should do but I think in terms of communicating with the community and what they want the pool to be in terms of its operation and keeping them informed of what’s going on with the progress, I think that would be good for sure,” Kildea said.
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Brazeau expects a representative from an aquatic planning, design and engineering firm to be at Clemens Community Pool on Nov. 4 to begin the process of evaluating what the facility needs to continue operating over the next eight to 10 years. And with those needs will be estimates on what it will all cost.
The company, Water Technology Inc., will prepare a complete report by Dec. 1 on the district’s options with the pool, Brazeau said.
“I can assure you, there is no item I have dealt with more in my office than the pool,” said Brazeau, who officially started the job as interim superintendent in July. “It’s almost a daily event that we deal with or try to do something with the pool, and not everybody agrees.”
In other news from the Oct. 21 meeting:
• Teachers K’lynn Coleman and Molly Bell, who are working as Response to Instruction and Intervention specialists this academic year, provided the board with an explanation of their work. Coleman works with children in grades K-2 and Bell with students in grades 3-5.
• Philomath Elementary School teacher Susan Halliday provided details on the district’s Continuous Improvement Plan, a process designed to engage schools to positively impact student outcomes.
• Brazeau said he received word from Benton County that it plans to begin the surveying process for the design and construction of street-widening improvements on Chapel Drive — an area that runs from 19th Street to Bellfountain Road. Brazeau said he was told the funding is in place and the work is scheduled for 2020-21.
• The board discussed the first steps in the process to hire a permanent superintendent of schools. Kildea proposed that the board gathers information to see if Brazeau, who is serving in an interim role this academic year, would be a candidate for the job. Kildea plans to talk to him about the possibility while Niemann and Grube volunteered to conduct a staff assessment on their thoughts.
• Kildea led a discussion on the board’s recent retreat with a review of what came out of it and what will occur in the coming months. One decision that has been made was to reschedule the annual board retreat for May instead of August.
• The board packet included first readings of several policies with highlighted changes.
• The board approved on a 5-0 vote to direct the superintendent to enter into an agreement with Newton Creek Estates for a water line and sidewalk easement.
• The board approved 5-0 the appointments of Rick Wells and Craig McDaniel to the district’s budget committee.
• The board approved 4-0 a consent agenda that included several personnel changes and assignments, a memorandum of construction approval and the second reading of various board policies. Kildea recused himself from the vote because his wife was included among the personnel decisions.
• Among the personnel changes were additions of Seiner as pool director and swim coach, and Kayley Kampfer as an assistant dance coach. Also, Rachel Roberts, a speech-language pathologist at the elementary school, plans to go on maternity leave beginning in December through the rest of the academic year.