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Rumors fly, but high school pool not on chopping block yet

MARYSVILLE The rumors are flying fast and furious. According to Mayor Dennis Kendall, they have even reached his office.
Still, Marysville School District Superintendent Larry Nyland said there are no imminent plans to close the Marysville-Pilchuck High School swimming pool. That may or may not change.
Nyland admitted school officials included halting pool operations on a long list of budget cuts proposed for the current school year. With input from the administration, there will be another such list generated by the district board of directors for the 2008-2009 school year. Nyland said in all likelihood, the pool will end up on that list as well.
It was not something that was given any extensive considerations in the budget discussions last year, Nyland said, but added he has no way of knowing where the pool might land on any future list. Neither did district board of directors President Cindy Erickson.
We havent had those discussions yet, she said, and I really wouldnt want to guess.
Nyland said the district has had to come up with a list of potential cuts equaling $1 million for several years. He blamed the need for the lists on what he described as shortcomings in state school funding and on a desire to keep salaries competitive, among other issues. In discussing district finances, Erickson mentioned the fact that the district ended up with a lower than predicted enrollment, which meant fewer than expected dollars coming from Olympia.
The board actually has come up with three budget trimming lists, labeled simply A, B and C. Nyland described the A list cuts as likely to happen and B list cuts as less likely. The district would cut C list items only as a last resort, he said. According to Erickson, the pool landed on the C last year. Closing it would save the district about $300,00 a year, Nyland said.
Erickson stated there was no surprise in the fact the most recent A list cuts did become a reality in the current year. Affected programs run the gamut, she added. The schools lost a uniformed police officer. Para-professional hours were sliced. Erickson also noted the board cut its own budget by 20 percent and hacked administration numbers by a similar percentage.
Cuts were made across the board, Erickson said. We wanted to be fair and equitable.
Both Erickson and Nyland promised plenty of opportunity for public input as the board moves forward with its budget trimming. Erickson said directors need to have a finished, balanced budget submitted to the state by July, though final numbers arent adopted until August.
In closing his comments, Nyland seemed to indicate closing the pool wouldnt be his first choice, but he once again refused to rule it out.
As a former swimming, diving coach, I certainly have some understanding of the importance of the swim program, he said. At the same time as were struggling to pay for textbooks, salaries and other operational costs, the pool represents a significant cost expenditure on our part each year.
Nyland and Kendall reported hearing from various supporters of the pool, which hosts both district swimming teams as well the community-based swim team the Mighty Marlins.
A district middle school teacher, Marlins head coach Kirby Schaufler said rumors about pool closure have arrived along with district budget discussions every year for about three years. An e-mail concerning possible closure is currently circulating among Marlins team members.
According to Schaufler, those members currently number about 130 swimmers from Marysville and surrounding communities. The Marlins range in age from four years old and up. The group swims competitively in the same organization that picks swimmers for the U.S. Olympic team.
Schaufler said the Marlins use the Marysville-Pilchuck pool just about every day, practicing three mornings and five nights a week. What would closure of the pool mean for the team?
Thats a good question, Schaufler said. We dont know.
He added the team would look for pool time elsewhere, but that could prove hard to come by. For example, the group has at least studied using a public pool in Lake Stevens. But that pool already hosts a swim team, meaning its probably not available for use by the Marlins.

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