Troubled waters? Closure no longer scheduled for pool at Norwood High School ... for now

Students, swim coach concerned about possibility
Posted at 12:00 PM, Jan 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-24 07:00:39-05

NORWOOD, Ohio -- Tentative plans to close the swimming pool at Norwood High School have been halted, but some students and parents are still concerned.

Board members for Norwood City Schools have been discussing the topic off and on for a year, but for now there are no plans to fill in the pool, said Superintendent Rob Amodio.

The continued apprehension about the pool’s future is largely due to the timing and manner in which swim coach Jennifer Wallace and her students learned about the plans. Wallace, who also acts as recreation director for the city of Norwood, hadn’t heard anything about the talks until early January, when students informed her of rumors they’d heard.

The rumors were that the pool would be filled in, said Alex Endsley, a sophomore on Norwood High School’s boys swim team.

Shortly after hearing this, Wallace met with Amodio. She left the meeting under the impression that the plan to fill in the pool was “a done deal.”

“To say the least, I was a little dumbfounded,” she said.

In addition to Norwood’s middle and high school swim teams, the pool is used by the city’s recreation department for swim lessons and lifeguard training and is rented by one other school district for swim practices and meets.

After Wallace’s meeting with Amodio, students and parents sprung to action, creating signs and petitions and meeting with school board members to discuss the issue. From speaking with board members, they learned that a vote was expected to take place on the matter during the Jan. 19 board meeting.

“Several board members said they weren’t going to vote in favor of it,” Wallace said.

Before the meeting came to pass, though, Amodio met with swim team members and told them the agenda item regarding the pool had been removed from the board meeting agenda.

He also sent out a letter Jan. 13, stating, “For the foreseeable future the pool will continue with the current usage of the facility as the home of the Norwood High School Swim Team.”

While the news brings some reassurance that the pool isn’t going away for now, some swimmers and parents are still concerned enough that they attended the board’s Jan. 19 meeting.

“I feel like just because they don’t do it for this year doesn’t mean they won’t do it for next year,” Endlsey said.

“We want to guarantee the pool for years,” he said.

District officials have concerns, too. While it’s seen as an asset to the district and the community, the pool doesn’t bring in much revenue and costs money to maintain, Amodio said.

“We’re going to continue to study how to make more financially efficient usage of the facility,” he said.

The discussions and any plans related to the pool are not a reflection on the swimmers, who are “doing a tremendous job,” he said. Nor does he anticipate doing away with the district’s swimming program.

While cost studies will continue, board members are making efforts to ensure students’ and parents’ voices are heard in future discussions about the pool.

“We are working with a small group of parents to create a plan of action,” wrote Norwood school board President Sarah Horsley in an email.