Letter to the editor: GISD natatorium decision
Voters, volunteers, and taxpayers in GISD are shocked that on Tuesday, 9/13, the Garland ISD Board of Trustees voted 4-3 to reject the natatorium that was promised in 2014 as part of the school bond package that passed with over 62% of the vote.
After months of negotiations that the board itself authorized, the trustees were given a fairly negotiated, competitive bid of $27.5 million. All observers thought it was a fair compromise. Yet, to the utter dismay of everyone who has followed the bond for years, they voted to reject the bid AND voted to kick the can down the road until 2019. As a result, if the natatorium ever gets built, nearly all students whose families fought for it will graduate before they get to use it.
The swimming community in Garland has waited decades for a suitable facility. The current swim team is training in a sub-par facility located outside the district. Already this school year, at least four practices have had to be cancelled because of mechanical problems with the pool. No other athletes in GISD face such obstacles to participation in their sport of choice. We don’t ask football or baseball teams to train outside the district in facilities where they can’t even host a home game, yet that’s what the swim team has been doing for more than 30 years.
I, personally, worked very hard to pass the bond in 2014 and I feel betrayed by the board’s action. It is fiscally irresponsible to move the natatorium to the back of the bond when cost escalations will add unknown millions to the price tag. There is no plan in place to deal with the cost escalations that will accrue between now and 2019. Therefore, I believe that if it remains in Phase 4 of the bond program, it will never be built. And if it doesn’t get built, what will they spend that money on? Voters should not believe any trustee who “promises” that it will be built in 2019, because all seven members will face re-election before then.
I have started an online petition that has gained nearly 500 signatures already. Voters in GISD want the trustees to keep their promise and build the natatorium NOW.