Does City Control FUSD Non-Exclusive Pool Use?
Cindy Blatt, FHS Swim Coach.
Cindy Blatt, FHS Swim Coach.

I would like to point out some incorrect information that was stated in the City of Fillmore’s press release re: pool project halt, published in the Fillmore Gazette on August 18. In the second paragraph, it states that FUSD has exclusive use of the pool 8 months of the year. That is an incorrect statement. That has not been the case in the past and If you read the original proposed agreement from 2021 and all subsequent proposed agreements you will find on page 1, under Recitals, paragraph 3, first sentence: "Whereas, City is willing to grant to District a license for the non-exclusive use of the pool....". The agreement repeatedly refers to “non-exclusive use”. The City’s statement is misleading.

During the 2021 FHS swim season during the District's non-exclusive use of the pool, the City rented out the pool on several Saturdays to Trinity Classical Academy from Valencia for high school swim meets. The press release makes it seem like the City does not have any right to pool use during the District's 8 months of use. Again, it is stated throughout the agreement that the District only has non-exclusive use of the facility

Regarding the District requesting use of the pool during the City's exclusive use of the pool, before fall of 2018, the District's programs (swim team, water polo, cross-country, football, etc) used the pool during the summer months by agreement with City staff during down times or times when there were few City programs using the pool. The District programs did not conflict with any of the City's programs. The District programs worked around the City's programs.

Over the past three years, access to the entire pool facility by FHS coaches and students has been whittled away in such a way to cause safety concerns and was a hindrance to providing quality and successful programs. Coaches were locked out of three rooms at the facility with no explanation. Coaches had had full access to the facility from March 2000 until Fall of 2018. Not until a complaint was issued by FUSD Athletic Trainer about no access to the AED in 2021 were coaches again given access to the First Aid Room and the AED. FHS equipment was removed from the pool site and the City claimed ownership.

The press release states that the City was informed in July 2020 by the County of Ventura that the pool needed to be re-plastered. In fact the City was notified in July 2019 during an inspection of the pool of the need to re-plaster. I guess the City chose to ignore this and the County did not follow up until 2020. I have a copy of the Inspection report. It is public record. Re-plastering should not be a surprise. It should be something the City plans for. The pool is 12 years old. The Fillmore Aquatic Center is a City facility. The FUSD Board of Trustees agreed to fund 50% of the replastering work along with paying a monthly $4,500 rental fee. This was not good enough for the City. Now they threaten to close the pool. A pool closure will be a black eye for the City of Fillmore.

The City complains that the City only uses the pool for three months of the year. The pool was built with the intention that the pool would have year-round programs. The City of Carpinteria, with a smaller population basis than Fillmore, seems to manage to have year-round programs at their Community pool, including working with their school district to include water polo and swim team programs.

The main reason why the Aquatic Center has a fund balance deficit totaling over $800,000 is because the fund started in a deficit due to mismanaged capital spending and poor staffing management.

The press release unfairly points a finger of blame at FUSD.