Middle school pool

The Charles City middle school swimming pool could be closed as a budget-cutting move by the school district.

CHARLES CITY | Jill Connell started to cry when talking to the Charles City School Board Monday night about what the swimming pool at the middle school means to her son, Ragan, who has cerebral palsy.

“The water is the only place where he feels like a normal kid,” she said.

Closing the pool is among the $330,000 in proposed cuts being considered by the School Board to make up for a reduction in state funding due to an enrollment decrease of 47 students. The board held a public forum on the proposed cuts Monday.

Connell said her son is on the YMCA swim team, which uses the pool at the middle school. He will be able to remain on the team until he is 21.

“In the water he is like everyone else,” she said.

Charles City High School’s varsity girls swim team also uses the pool. In addition it is used for physical education classes and swimming lessons.

District officials say they could work out an agreement with the Charles City YMCA to provide pool time for PE classes.

Draining the pool and providing only minimal heating for the space would save the district around $60,000 annually, according to Charles City School Superintendent Dan Cox.

Cutting the varsity girls swimming coach position would save an additional $6,000.

District officials say a cooperative agreement could be worked out with the nearest available high school swimming program for girls from Charles City who want to participate in varsity swimming. Currently there are 14 girls on the team.

The district will no longer be using the middle school building as a school once the new middle school at the high school campus is completed in 2016. However, a repurposing committee is looking at other ways to use the building.

Charles City eighth-grader Caitlyn Marty, who is on the YMCA swim team, asked the board to consider charging admission for swim meets, working out an agreement with the YMCA for pool use or building a new pool when turning the high school site into a single campus for middle school and high school.

The board also is considering cutting a number of assistant coaching positions in other sports and eliminating extended contract days for a number of positions, such as the agriculture instructor/FFA advisor position and band and orchestra teachers.

These extended contract days are used for FFA activities during the summer, as well as summer band lessons.

The district’s library program also is facing possible cuts.

Nancy Simerson, a retired New Hampton teacher who lives in Charles City, asked the board to consider going through every line item in the budget and cutting each one by 5 to 10 percent rather than picking a few positions and cutting them.

School Board member Lorraine Winterink said the district is offering early retirement incentives again this year, and hopefully that will encourage some staff members to retire and lessen the need for cuts.

The board is planning to hold a special work session to discuss the proposed budget cuts, possibly sometime next month.

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