Fremont #1 Trustees Discuss Swimming Pool Finances
After hearing a report that the school district was paying $436,000 from its general fund to operate the district’s swimming pool, Fremont County School District #1 Trustees expressed their concern about the amount that was being subsidized. In 2012-13, the cost of operations plus personnel expenses for the pool was $568,000, and only $132,000 was received in revenue. The City of Lander has paid the school district $52,000 for many years to help defray the cost of the pool; however, with the City having financial issues, the City notified the school district that the $52,000 will not be provided the school district in 2014-15. Superintendent of Schools, Mike Bowman, informed the Trustees that 70% of the pool usage is for non-school participants, such as lane swimming, open swimming, preschool swim lessons, etc. Bruce Gresly, swimming pool manager, stated that when the pool was originally built, the agreement was for the City and the school district to split the cost of operating the pool evenly since the City did not have the means to build the pool, and the school district was able to bond in order to build the pool. However, over time, the amount contributed by the City changed to the point where the City was only paying $52,000 per year. The Lander Recreation District provides the City $15,000 for pool usage which is passed on to the school district. The school district is currently considering ways to decrease costs and increase revenues, and some of the ideas being considered include reducing the number of times that lap and open swimming are offered during the week, increasing admission fees, increasing the cost of swimming lessons, and providing some of the revenue from the lease of the Hudson School to the swimming pool account. The City offered to let the school district have the money which had been set aside to pay for the renovation of the restroom at North Park which the Board of Trustees required as part of the approval for the skatepark. However, the Trustees decided that the money should be used for the restroom. Trustee Joe Palladino suggested that the City provide free water for the pool usage. Bruce Gresly said that at one time, the City was providing free water for the entire school district. Trustee Palladino said that the $52,000 which the district will now
need to subsidize would pay for a full-time tutor or 1.5 paraprofessionals. Trustee Dave Clark said that the Board has difficulty from an educational standpoint justifying paying $468,000 from the general fund for recreational activities. Superintendent Bowman said that he and Business Manager Travis Sweeney will meet with City officials to discuss solutions to this problem.
Superintendent Bowman provided the Trustees with data from the Wyoming Department of Education that showed that graduation rates for the Class of 2013 had decreased significantly over the previous years. While the state rate for students graduating in four years had dropped from 78.9% in 2011-12 to 77.6% in 2012-13, the FCSD#1 rate dropped from 86.2% to 72.7% in the same time period. The Pathfinder High School rate had dropped from one of its all-time highs with the Class of 2012 at 58.3% to one of its worst with the Class of 2013 at 19.1%. Lander Valley High School’s rate dropped from 89.2% to 82.2% from 2012 to 2013. The five-year graduation rates for the District (87.0%), LVHS (90.0%), and Pathfinder (61.5%) exceeded the state’s rate of 81.3%. The six-year graduation rates also significantly exceeded the state’s rate. Trustee Bruce Palmer pointed out that the District’s graduation rate placed it 40th of the 48 districts in the state, and he expressed his disappointment in the precipitous drop. He also pointed out that the graduation rate for the Native American subgroup had dropped to 45%, and it was 48% for the free-and-reduced lunch subgroup. Superintendent Bowman told the Trustees that the high school principals and Dropout Prevention Coordinator will continue working with at-risk students to try to keep students from dropping out.
Other items from the Board meeting included:
- Recognized Stephani Bowman, who has served as the volunteer coordinator for the District’s Friday Backpack Program for the last three years. Through this program, over 70 school-age students and their families (approximately 130 total people) receive food each weekend during the school year. Mrs. Bowman has purchased the food, stocked the food in the warehouse, constructed menus, obtained local volunteers to help stuff the backpacks and food bags, and performed all other functions to make the program successful.
- Approved increasing the price of student lunches and breakfasts five cents per meal; this will raise an additional $2200 next year, based on the participation rate for 2013-14.
- Appointed Denise Kinney, current district Food Service employee, as the new Food Service Director.
- Accepted $2500 donations from Jim Schafer of Pirate Propane and Jason Redman of Phat Foam for the purchase of a new wrestling mat so that the District will not have to borrow one from Riverton when wrestling tournaments are hosted at LVHS.
- Scheduled an orientation session for individuals considering running for a seat on the school board for Tuesday, August 5, at 6:00 p.m. in the school district’s administration office. Recognized John Metcalfe, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Student Assessment, as he retires at the end of the week.