Parents Keep Up Quest for 50-Meter Pool at LCHS

A parent group is attempting to raise money to build a 50-meter pool at La Cañada High School, despite the local school district board’s approval of a smaller, 40-meter one in April.
LCHS swimming team supporter Margaret O’Grady said in an email the group consists of about 25 parents and is growing.
“Our understanding is that a 50-meter pool for the LCHS campus is still a possibility if the right financials are in place,” O’Grady said. “This seems to be a financial issue more than a design/space issue.”
The group’s effort, which will likely include reaching out to LCF and L.A. County businesses for donations, began after the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board voted two months ago for a 40-meter pool.
“Swim parents were just not informed or aware of the pool size before April 16,” O’Grady said.
The group doesn’t have a name but is using the slogan “50 Meters for 50 Years” to demonstrate why it wants the pool.
“Building a 50-meter pool is a sound decision,” O’Grady said. “It’s not just about right now. I am sure you know that a 50-meter pool is the Olympic and worldwide standard for competition. A 50-meter pool could be incredibly important in both the short and the long term.”
She added that LCHS could host championship meets with the proper lane competition setup and additional warmup lanes. The school could even rent the pool to other teams that might need the practice space or rent it at a profit to groups that charge members more than $60 a month, she said.
LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said the district is aware of the effort.
“The parents’ group is familiar with the district’s concern that we do not have any additional district funding available for the project, and that we do not want to impact our field use or space more than we already have planned,” Sinnette said in an email on Monday. “If the parents group is able to come up with a plan that is funded and addresses those issues, we would be willing to consider their plans.”
It will cost an estimated $9 million to build a 40-meter pool on the south side of the south gym, a price that includes new basketball courts, an expansion of a south parking lot and a shifting of the JV baseball field.
Sinnette said architects have estimated that a 50-meter pool would cost about $1 million more than a 40-meter pool, not including additional locker and restrooms required for a larger pool.
“If sufficient funding was obtained, the project could in theory be modified via a change order, but a change order would add additional expense to the project, and the amount would increase as the project progresses,” Sinnette said. “A 50-meter pool also would have higher annual maintenance costs.”
O’Grady said her group believes when bids for the project arrive around fall 2019 or early 2020, the discussion can be reopened.
“If the bids are under $9 million for the overall project, we should be able to build 10 extra meters onto the 40-meter pool,” O’Grady said. “In order to make sure the pool does not disrupt the baseball fields, it would be ideal to have those 10 extra meters go slightly into the parking lot. As you know, the South Campus Improvement project is adding 40 parking spaces. Yes, a 50-meter pool might require losing some parking spaces — maybe five — because it would go into the parking lot, but the project is gaining 40 parking spaces so it should work out still with more parking for LCHS.”
In addition, O’Grady believes that if her group can successfully raise pledges to close the funding gap, it will be able to have a role in the planning process.
“Because we can’t count on bids from builders coming in lower than $9 million (although many think the bids will come in lower) we have to be prepared for a funding gap,” O’Grady said.
At a board meeting in January where pool sizes were discussed, annual operating costs for a 50-meter pool without labor were estimated at $182,000. The 40-meter pool’s annual operation costs were projected to be $162,000.
O’Grady said the 40-meter pool construction cost is “probably” less than half of $9 million, a figure she believes has more to do with what is being called the South Campus Improvement Project, which includes new basketball courts, parking lot expansion and a shifting of the junior varsity baseball field. The estimate that a 50-meter poll would cost an extra $1 million doesn’t make sense, she said.
Sinnette said the amount for the pool is architects’ best estimate.
“While it would certainly be great if we received bids in a lower amount, this is the best estimate of the experts at the current time,” Sinnette said. “The parents’ group has the delineated costs that are currently available to the architects, and we have reached out to the parents’ group to ask what additional delineated costs they are seeking.”
Sinnette added that despite the architects’ estimate for the 40-meter project, the actual amount won’t be known until bids are received in the fall.
“Unfortunately, with the number of school construction projects underway around California, the bids on other school projects have generally been coming in at or higher than architectural projections,” Sinnette said.
O’Grady said a website and a Facebook page for the parent group are in the works. Those interested in learning more or joining the group may email O’Grady at

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