The Patagonia Public Pool has been a cherished part of the community for over 30 years. It originated with a grant given to the Town of Patagonia, which acted as the managing entity for many years. In 2004 the management and operation of the pool switched over to the Patagonia Union High School. At that point, three main entities were a part of the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA): Patagonia Union High School, Patagonia Elementary School, and the Town of Patagonia. Each entity contributed $10,000 in order to keep the pool open. At the time of the change, it was enough money to run the pool, along with some community fundraising to support maintenance and improvements.
The cost of running the pool has dramatically increased and it now costs between $65,000 and $75,000 a year to run the pool. This increase in cost is due to the increase of cost in chlorine, electricity, and also for wages of lifeguards. Patagonia Union High School has been covering the extra $35,000 to $40,000 for the past five years. We received a grant to replace the filter system that was originally installed when the pool was built, but just like an old car, replacing that filter created more problems that need to be fixed.
Additionally, there are major upgrades required both in the short term and long term. The short-term permanent fixes are estimated to cost around $250,000. We need to replace the deck ($60,000-$90,000), the pool surface ($100,000 – $150,000), replace the fencing ($20,000), install a lift ($9,000-$17,000), along with other problems that may arise.
This discussion began in October 2019. At that time, Friends of the Patagonia Pool (FOPP) was created by our community to help alleviate the financial burden that PUHS has been facing. They have worked diligently to come up with funding to help support the pool. We also received $30,000 from South32 in order to open the pool for this year. Most of the monetary information in this article came from a report funded by FOPP through grants they received.
Unfortunately, the schools cannot continue to pay for and run the pool. We ask for another entity to come forward in order to keep the pool open, as it no longer meets the educational needs of the students enough to justify the price tag that comes with it. We need to properly spend the taxpayers’ money for what it was intended for, and that is the well-rounded education of the students of Patagonia Public Schools.
We do not make this decision lightly. Many hours have been spent discussing this issue. If management and financial support can be appropriately provided, the pool can remain open, but Patagonia Public Schools cannot continue to fund it at the current levels.
Thank you to our community’s strong commitment to helping this cause.
Editor’s note: Kenny Hayes is Superintendent of Patagonia Union High School and Patagonia Elementary School Districts