With $20,000 in hand from donors, the Lakeville school district will investigate how much it would cost to build the well at Kenwood Trail Middle School.
The Lakeville school district will commission a study to find out how much it would cost to build a diving well at Kenwood Trail Middle School, thanks to $20,000 in contributions from businesses and residents.
A ceremonial check was presented to the school board Tuesday, and that will pay for Wold Architects and Engineers to do the design study. It's a step toward pool improvements that swimmers and their families have wanted for years -- but not a guarantee the board will approve even a cubic foot of new pool water.
If the study goes well and the board finds a way to fund the project, the diving well could be built in 2011, said Superintendent Gary Amoroso.
Fundraising for the study came after a community task force told the board in January that the district should build the diving well and more seating for spectators at Kenwood Trail, as well as a new swimming pool at Century Middle School.
Families agitating for the upgrades say the district's two pools, at Kenwood Trail and McGuire middle schools, are overcrowded and inadequate.
One problem is that McGuire's pool is too shallow for swim meets, while Kenwood Trail's doesn't have a diving well. As a result, high school swimming and diving competitions held in Lakeville are split between the two pools. Adding a diving well at Kenwood Trail would give Lakeville one complete venue where the district's two high schools could host competitions, though parents such as Sally Chatelaine pointed out that other sports teams have two sets of facilities -- one at each high school.
"It's really only getting us halfway there, but halfway is a good start," she said.
The task force worked with an estimate of $2.3 million for the Kenwood Trail upgrades, but that figure is several years old, and some participants in the discussion believe the project could cost less, Amoroso said. Plus, that number was "based on concepts, not on a specific design," he said.
Board member Bob Erickson suggested earlier this year that residents raise money for a design study, arguing the board needs to know just how much the diving well would cost before deciding whether and how to pay for construction.
If school board members approve the diving well, they'll have to find a way to pay for it -- a challenge in an era of school budget cuts.
Many parents had pushed the board to help fund the diving well with more than $700,000 left over from the proceeds of the bond sale that built Lakeville South High School, but district attorneys do not believe that's acceptable, Amoroso said.
Last year, the Minnesota Department of Education nixed a district proposal to pay for pool construction at Kenwood Trail and Century using a funding method called a lease levy, which involves raising local taxes without seeking voter approval. However, the district might be allowed to use a lease levy to fund more modest upgrades at Kenwood Trail, Amoroso said.
The school board could also put the diving well on local ballots -- something the task force has already asked the board to do next spring to pay for the proposed pool at Century, which could cost between $6.3 million and $7.3 million.
People interested in the pool improvements have pledged to raise money toward them.
Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016