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School Board hopes for pool at Alexandria high school dampened by budget concerns

A new report on plans to overhaul Alexandria High School’s Minnie Howard campus made a splash as staff said a planned aquatics facility likely won’t make the cut.

In a School Board meeting on March 18, staff reviewed three concepts for what the new school could look like. But while the proposed aquatics facility is included in school designs, staff said it’s ultimately unlikely that ACPS will have the funding necessary to go forward with a pool.

Staff said the issue isn’t so much the cost of the pool, but the cost to offset the energy requirements of the pool keep the school at Net Zero.

“It is currently not in the ACPS budget,” staff said. “Currently, the PV to achieve net zero for the pool is $1.2 million.”

As the School Board dove into the new designs, several members of the Board expressed frustration at the prospect of eliminating the pool.

“Our swim and dive teams have never had a regulation-size pool,” said School Board member Jacinta Greene. “They have to go outside of our city to have our meets. Right now they go to Saint James [in Falls Church]. We should try to push as hard as we can for our current students and future students.”

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings said ACPS is looking into potential partnerships that could help reduce the cost, along with colocation to make the price tag more reasonable.

“We are working directly with the city with regards to any type of co-location, specifically with regards to the pool,” Hutchings said. “At the same time, the city has not supported funding for the pool, but I know there are other entities we’re trying to explore.”

Staff noted that public-private partnerships are being considered, which got some support from the Board. Hutchings also said that ACPS has reached out to new Assistant City Manager Julian Gonsalves to work on putting that kind of partnership together.

“If there’s anything the Board can to do help with P3 partnerships, or send letters or push,” said Board Member Christopher Suarez, “on behalf of myself, I’d want the Board to push that.”

Photo via T.C. Williams High School/Facebook

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