Despite a return to in-person learning this fall, the Board of Education has decided the Kent City High School pool will remain closed indefinitely.
The pool, which closed March 13 due to the coronavirus, had been open for 45 years since the high school was built in 1974. While well used in the past by both students and the community, it has experienced declining use in recent years, said Superintendent Mike Weiler.
Yearly maintenance costs have escalated to between $75,000 and $100,000, which contributed to the board’s decision to keep the pool closed and deliberate on its future. Other factors included increasing costs for pool repairs, the challenge of finding qualified lifeguards to regularly staff the pool and the cost-prohibitive nature of keeping a state-qualified pool operator on staff, according to board minutes.
Kent City does not field an interscholastic swim team, according to Athletic Director Jason Vogel.
“We tried to start a junior swim team, among other programming for our students, but had limited success,” he said.
In addition, changes to the elementary physical education curriculum has resulted in fewer students using the pool overall.
The board has suggested potentially transforming the space into an auxiliary gym, which would likely service more students on a regular basis.
“We believe that repurposing the area would allow for more use by Kent City students in the years to come with far less annual operating costs than what we have currently,” said Weiler.
The board will continue to take comments and discuss the matter before deciding if they will close the pool permanently.