I spent most of my childhood swimming. Springboard pool in Springfield was my home, from early mornings at swim team practice to afternoons lounging around the pool. I remember the frozen hair after leaving practice in the winter and the chlorine smell that permeated everything I owned. One of the girls I swam with, Susie Rapp, received a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics for the 100 meter breaststroke. I swam on our neighborhood and high school teams until I turned 16, got a job, and discovered boys, though not necessarily in that order.
Why am I talking about swimming on a blog about education? Because PWCS intends to include a pool in their plans for the 12th high school that will be built in mid-county near the Kelly Center.
I grew up swimming and can’t imagine what my life would have been without it. I understand and respect the importance of swimming as a team sport and something you do for fun.
Last year PWCS said it didn’t have enough money to give teachers raises for the next 5 years. The school division was able to find enough money to eek out a step increase, but only after raising class sizes to 28 students in elementary school and 35 – 40 students in middle and high school. If PWCS didn’t have the money for teacher raises and can’t afford to lower class sizes, how can we afford to operate a pool in a school?
Our schools’ core function is teaching our children to read, write, and do math. Our test scores, while good in some areas, have room for improvement in many areas. Our high school drop out rate is among the highest in the region. Our class sizes are the largest in the state by a significant margin. Many of our schools are overcrowded, and not just mildly so. Lunch that runs from 10 am – 2 pm is common across the county, because our existing facilities are inadequate to meet our needs. Our teachers are among the lowest paid in the region.
But we can afford to put a pool in a school?
Only one school division in Northern Virginia operates pools in their high schools – Arlington County. No other school divisions operate pools in their schools because the cost is too high. The pools in the Arlington high schools are open to the public for limited hours during the week and on weekends. Revenues for fees for use of the pools cover less than half the annual operating costs. The rest is provided with taxpayer money; money that could and should be spent on teachers and classrooms.
There’s no doubt that PWC needs another community center. Dale City and Chinn are at their breaking point. But we need a community center, run by the Park Authority, where the focus will be on meeting the needs of the community as a whole, not just swim teams.
A pool in a school isn’t part of the school division’s core function. It meets no ones needs, except a few politicians who want to gather as many feathers for their caps as possible.
Politicians feathering their caps on the backs of the taxpayers isn’t something I can or will support, especially when that feathering will take scarce school division resources away from teachers and classrooms.
We need a school and seats for students, but we don’t need a pool in a school.
Write to your school board members and BOCS representatives Let them know that you don’t support building a school with a pool.
Cut and paste the addresses below to send an email to the entire School Board:
Cut and paste the addresses below to send an email to the entire Board of County Supervisors: