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SISD Board considers $3.2 million natatorium

MISSION— Sharyland Independent School District Board of Trustees discussed building a $3.2 million natatorium during a special meeting this week. The discussion comes after the district could not come to an agreement with the City of Mission on a contract for the use of the newly constructed Bannworth natatorium, located just north of the Sharyland High School campus.

Wednesday, the Sharyland board discussed financing plan options and construction design for the proposed natatorium. One financing option involved swapping dollars from the $55 million bond issue for construction of the new Pioneer High School and using a portion of those monies to pay for the natatorium. Some board members expressed concern that this was not what was presented to voters when the bond was approved. However, they were assured it could be done legally.

Board members looked at a preliminary construction design for a district natatorium that would cost $3 to $3.35 million. The staff’s recommendation that the natatorium should be located just north of the solar panels at Sharyland North Junior High met with approval of the board. The natatorium would be about a third larger than the current Bannworth natatorium.

The proposed design would include seating for up to 450 people and would have overflow areas for additional seating inside and outside. The design also includes two air-conditioned areas including office, conference and storage areas. Locker rooms, showers, restrooms and changing rooms for athletes and separate bathrooms for guests are also included.

The pool would have eight regular swimming lanes designed for competition, with starting blocks at one end. A diving area of the pool would include two diving boards at different heights and could be used to provide four additional swim lanes, offering up to 12 lanes for practices. The diving area could be utilized as a warm up area for swimmers during swim meets as well. The building would have garage doors on two sides to open, when weather permits, to allow for circulation.

Athletic Director Richard Thompson said having a pool like this would serve the district well. In addition to serving the usual swimming and diving athletes, it will also allow for more school programs such as rehabilitation for special education students and swimming classes for elementary students.

Thompson said another benefit of having their own natatorium will be scheduling, particularly when the second high school opens. He said he anticipates a 20 to 25 percent growth in students participating in sports when that happens.

The district’s bond counsel, Chuy Ramirez, presented financing plan options to board members that included taking some monies from the current high school bond issue or going out to the public for another bond that would solely be for the construction of the natatorium.

Ramirez told the board, since the bond proposition for the funds for the construction of the new high school was generic in its wording, monies needed for the pool could be taken from that bond issue. The proposition did not specify what type of construction the bond monies were going to used for. The bond was for construction of buildings and the purchase of property.

Jesse Muniz, assistant superintendent of business and finance, said the district is fortunate enough to have something currently under construction to be able to swap some of that money out for the construction of another facility. Bond money earmarked for the purpose of personal property or equipment, and movable items at the new high school, could be used to build the natatorium instead. The district could then get a bank loan to pay for the equipment needs.

Muniz said the district is looking at spending about $250,000 for operations of the pool and then possibly another $250,000 on the bank loan. He said he wants to keep it under $500,000. Muniz said he is also looking at possible revenues of $75,000 to $80,000 a year with programs that will be offered at the natatorium, which will offset some of the operating cost.

Muniz said they would be looking at a 15-year note at approximately a 2.5 percent interest.

The board decided to have administration come back with a financing plan at the next Business Operations and Finance Committee meeting that will be held later this month.

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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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