BHS pool to cost more than expected

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The indoor community swimming pool, estimated to open in the fall of 2014, may cost almost $1 million more than expected.

The indoor community swimming pool, estimated to open in the fall of 2014, may cost almost $1 million more than expected.

Belen Board of Education voted unanimously to increase the budget for the pool from $8 million, as allotted in the $23.75 million bond passed in February 2011, to $8.85 million at the board's Jan. 8 meeting.

Superintendent Ron Marquez pointed out that the price tag for the pool may come in under the estimated pool costs set by project architect Dekker/Perich/Sabatini.

Board President Sam Chavez said he wanted this to be the case.

"I'm hoping that with the low amount of construction out there and these companies hungry for bids that we are going to have some very competitive bids and we may not spend the $8.8 million," Chavez said.

Board members will decide which bond projects the additional pool funds will be diverted from in the next couple of months after creating a priority list of the seven projects outlined in the bond.

George Perea, the district's director of business and finance, presented the board with options to make up for the $850,000 needed.

Since Belen's Family School was awarded $500,000 from the New Mexico Public School Capital Outlay Council for two classrooms in the proposed school's educational specifications, administrators could pull $500,000 from the school's $3 million bond, Perea said.

Another $350,000 could be pulled from the $1 million set aside in the bond's miscellaneous/contingency fund, he said.

Board member Larry Lindberg said these solutions made sense.

"We can make adjustments and we have the money, so I think we should go ahead and make ourselves a first-class pool that will last for years," Lindberg said.

Family School has been housed in Rio Communities at the Valley Improvement Association building since its building on East Side School Road was condemned in 2009.

To receive these state funds, the district demonstrated to PSCOC members the alternative school was being utilized to its full potential by doubling both classroom hours and enrollment for third- and fourth-grade students, down-sizing the school's educational specifications by $1.6 million and establishing Family School is not a program.

Preliminary design plans for the pool reveal the more than 29,000-square-foot natatorium facility will feature two pools, locker rooms, showers, rest rooms and a seating capacity of 300.

The 7-foot deep competition pool can be used in two directions and utilize cool water to allow for faster swimming speeds.

The diving/recreation pool will contain warm water, a one meter diving board and a three meter diving board.

The community pool will be located between the high school football stadium and the high school swimming pool where the old tennis courts once were.

School administrators delayed the sale of $13 million worth of General Obligation Bonds, including the pool's funding, to receive the best interest rate.

Until the bonds are sold, the district will use Senate Bill 9 funds from the Public School Capital Improvements Act to continue moving forward with bond projects, such as the pool, Chavez said. These funds can be used as supplementary school funding for capital improvement needs.

With the last two audits, from 2009-10 and 2010-11, given an unfavorable opinion, the district could've received a higher interest rate due to a poor rating from a bond rating agency.

However, the opinion given to the 2011-12 audit, which is estimated to be completed later this month, could turn this around.

This audit is expected to receive a more favorable opinion than years past, administrators said.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.