BOE Considering Spending Millions to Restore Columbia Pool

SOMSD has been sued and lost due to the achievement gap that exists.

The long-range plan was developed, in part, to help address the achievement gap.

Is saving the pool the best strategy for our district to address the achievement gap?  My opinion is no.

Saving the pool sounds great, no one wants to lose the pool. However, we can't have everything.  Increasing class space and resources is a better path than saving a pool.


The 10-minute presentation to the board, followed by questions and comments from board members, starts around the 1 hour 52 minute mark.


DaveSchmidt said:

The 10-minute presentation to the board, followed by questions and comments from board members, starts around the 1 hour 52 minute mark.

You might wish to start at 1:47 to hear the impassioned, eloquent statement from the student Board member about how he, his classmates and teachers live in fear because of the school's security failures.

yahooyahoo said:

I wish whoever is funding this would be transparent.

It turns out the website itself was created by a former CHS swimmer who’s in college now. What Consolidated Chlorine paid him, I don’t know.


If ensuring that children learn to swim is the major driving goal here, then the people involved should move on to form the nucleus of a group dedicated to finding swimming solutions for our community, assuming the pool restoration plea is not settled in their favor.  When/if they move to that goal, I'll do my best to add my skills, time and donations to the cause.  I'm firmly against restoring the current pool, for the many reasons already mentioned. I also am absolutely convinced that swimming lessons as protection against drowning need to happen well before high school, with an emphasis on low/no cost options and times that fit all schedules. Obviously a year-round community pool would be a major asset to the our communities.  I just think we need to do this the hard way, rather than trying to get a sub-optimal pool paid for via school taxation.


DanDietrich said:

It's too small for meets or serious swim team practices. And the space is better used for classroom and lab space. On top of that, the bonds were approved for specific projects, and we can't just redirect that spending into today's hip project.

According to a fact sheet shown Monday night by SaveOurKidsPool, only state meets couldn’t be held at the pool; the space is currently destined to be counselor offices and a student commons area; and a bond lawyer they consulted told them that the money wasn’t restricted to any specific plan for renovating that area and could still include pool restoration.


susan1014 said:

If ensuring that children learn to swim is the major driving goal here, then the people involved should move on to form the nucleus of a group dedicated to finding swimming solutions for our community, assuming the pool restoration plea is not settled in their favor. When/if they move to that goal, I'll do my best to add my skills, time and donations to the cause.

I believe I saw pool advocates maintain somewhere that they have already tried for the last several years to find swimming solutions for our community but have come up empty.

I just think we need to do this the hard way, rather than trying to get a sub-optimal pool paid for via school taxation.

The question at hand, it appears, is whether school taxation should pay for the feasibility study that SaveOurKidsPool is requesting.


DaveSchmidt said:

DanDietrich said:

It's too small for meets or serious swim team practices. And the space is better used for classroom and lab space. On top of that, the bonds were approved for specific projects, and we can't just redirect that spending into today's hip project.

According to a fact sheet shown Monday night by SaveOurKidsPool, only state meets couldn’t be held at the pool; the space is currently destined to be counselor offices and a student commons area; and a bond lawyer they consulted told them that the money wasn’t restricted to any specific plan for renovating that area and could still include pool restoration.

While the rules say it's allowed, I can't think of a single coach or team that would want to have meets in a 4-lane pool.  The fact sheet is misleading on this topic.  The pool is totally antiquated when it comes to competitive swimming.  Practice is certainly possible but even that would be challenging with overcrowding in each lane.


DanDietrich said:

DaveSchmidt said:

Note to any newcomers who may have moved here in the last 2, 3, 4 or 5 years and felt stirred to try to save a historic local resource whose fate had already been decided: We don’t want to hear it.

Dave, your posts here are posts that I read carefully.  I respect you, and I get what you are saying.  I just wish that the folks who have started this would have done some research first.  We have so many issues for the BOE to deal with that rehashing an old one only to come inevitably to the same conclusion seems a real waste of bandwidth to me.  All of the information is out there, or could be obtained by asking a few questions before trying to start a movement.  We have real access and equity issues to address, but this solution to a swimming issue just doesn't make fiscal sense when we have two good town pools.

When, in the history of the universe, has anyone ever done research before complaining why someone else isn't spending money on some perceived entitlement? 


joan_crystal said:

We are not talking about a public facility where young children can learn to swim and members of the entire community can swim laps during the winter months.  Given current concerns with school security, public access to a swimming pool within the high school would be severely limited to non-existent.  The question is whether a renovated/rebuilt(?) swimming pool would be more valuable to the education of our high schoolers than an expanded library and media center.  Given that choice under those circumstances, I would vote for the media center.

Yes.  And leave the fancy ceiling there and exposed for those who care to appreciate it.  


Can someone explain to me how refurbishment of a pool is going to cost over 8 million dollars. With that kind of money it might be cheaper to buy a vacant commercial building and build a pool. Brand spanking new…


upthecreek said:

Yes.  And leave the fancy ceiling there and exposed for those who care to appreciate it.  

why not? If it’s for media and arts classes I kinda like it. Hopefully you have a paddle 


Jaytee said:

Can someone explain to me how refurbishment of a pool is going to cost over 8 million dollars. With that kind of money it might be cheaper to buy a vacant commercial building and build a pool. Brand spanking new…

The $8.1 million was the amount proposed in 2013 to build an addition to the school for a brand spanking new pool.


DaveSchmidt said:

The $8.1 million was the amount proposed in 2013 to build an addition to the school for a brand spanking new pool.

thank you, 


Jaytee said:

thank you,

You’re welcome. The advocates said the 2013 estimated cost of refurbishing the pool was $4.9 million, $1 million less than the commons/offices plan.

ETA: I’m not sure how that estimate was determined without a feasibility study or, as I think board member Qasi Teleford asked, what information was lacking in 2013 that a feasibility study would provide now.


The numbers sound low to me.  Rebuilding a pool within a building is a logistical challenge, not to mention locker rooms, showers, restrooms, pumps and power for them, etc.  After that we would need a full time pool person to maintain it all.


DanDietrich said:

The numbers sound low to me.

You’d know better than me, and, yeah, as I ETA’d, I’m curious how the $4.9 million estimate was arrived at without accounting for those feasibility issues you mentioned.


DaveSchmidt said:

Jaytee said:

Can someone explain to me how refurbishment of a pool is going to cost over 8 million dollars. With that kind of money it might be cheaper to buy a vacant commercial building and build a pool. Brand spanking new…

The $8.1 million was the amount proposed in 2013 to build an addition to the school for a brand spanking new pool.

Not that it matters now (thank GOD), and I regret not having seen this thread earlier to clear up some of the confusion/questions, but on at least this point since it’s the last one— $8m is also the number for the current pool “restoration”, albeit as used for recreational purposes only.  A dedicated, competitive pool is a different animal and not represented by this particular $8m.  It had also been debated by the district before (the whole natatorium thing) and shot down; the present cost would be much more than $8m. 


DanDietrich said:

The numbers sound low to me.  Rebuilding a pool within a building is a logistical challenge, not to mention locker rooms, showers, restrooms, pumps and power for them, etc.  After that we would need a full time pool person to maintain it all.

See above.  The $8m was to have included exactly this in the same footprint, albeit with a smaller pool.  


yahooyahoo said:

DaveSchmidt said:

DanDietrich said:

It's too small for meets or serious swim team practices. And the space is better used for classroom and lab space. On top of that, the bonds were approved for specific projects, and we can't just redirect that spending into today's hip project.

According to a fact sheet shown Monday night by SaveOurKidsPool, only state meets couldn’t be held at the pool; the space is currently destined to be counselor offices and a student commons area; and a bond lawyer they consulted told them that the money wasn’t restricted to any specific plan for renovating that area and could still include pool restoration.

While the rules say it's allowed, I can't think of a single coach or team that would want to have meets in a 4-lane pool.  The fact sheet is misleading on this topic.  The pool is totally antiquated when it comes to competitive swimming.  Practice is certainly possible but even that would be challenging with overcrowding in each lane.

One might want to assume it would remain a 4-lane pool, or at minimum a reeeallly narrow one.  I wouldn’t.  Anyhoo.
Their bond lawyer (whoever it was) was wrong on not a few counts, or at least had their words grossly misinterpreted by those looking merely for what they wanted to hear.  As I’d said back then in opposition to this fact sheet— it ain’t the BOE’s decision, and the funds aren’t fungible.  Period, full stop.  Why the current BA, super and/or BOE didn’t shoot that down at the start is beyond me, but it did become quite evident that collectively they have zero clue about the process. It was rather embarrassing, to be honest.


The real issue is and always has been that (at least since the Cenozoic Age) Maplewood South Orange is and remains landlocked.

And don’t talk to me about what we can’t do.  Suez Canal anyone?

It sure as **** can be done.

#JerseyShoreCanalNow


This CHS pool thing is blowing up the BOE to be more dysfunctional than I ever remember it:

BOE Meeting Erupts in Confusion as One Member Accuses Another of Violating Ethics Code https://villagegreennj.com/schools-kids/boe-meeting-erupts-in-confusion-as-one-member-accuses-another-of-violating-ethics-code

And the context of this ethics code violation?  Presenting confidential info about the CHS pool area plans:

Are Board Members Swimming ‘Outside of Their Lane’ on CHS Pool Conversation? https://villagegreennj.com/schools-kids/are-board-members-swimming-outside-of-their-lane-on-chs-pool-conversation/

My take: The pool was haunted, and the ghosts are having a bit of fun messing with the BOE.


The BOE had denied OPRA requests regarding the pool's floor plan for security reasons. However, at the meeting, BOE Member Qawi Telesford used the floor plan in an effort to revive the $8 million project despite the fact that it's been voted down at least twice.


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