Fresno Unified's Edison High may get new $3.9 million pool

The Fresno BeeNovember 3, 2013 

The Edison High School pool complex, seen Nov. 3, 2013, is poised for an upgrade under a plan being considered at this week's Fresno Unified School District board meeting. Edison would be one of the last schools to get an aquatic upgrade, which will be paid for through general fund money.

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It's been nearly 15 years since Fresno Unified School District started replacing its high schools' decades-old swimming pools, many antiquated and beyond repair.

Now it's Edison High's turn.

District trustees will consider a $3.9 million proposal that could give students at the southwest Fresno school a new place to splash.

If trustees approve the project, the district can start planning and designing the new 35-meter outdoor pool to replace the current one, built in 1951. The board still would need to hire a general contractor for the project.

Edison Principal Lindsay Sanders said it's about time, because the facility is "an old, dated pool that served its purpose."

She said the water pumps have gone out several times this fall, making the pool unusable for gym classes and the school's swimming and water polo teams. The last time they failed, she said, the school had to close the pool for two weeks.

"We had to wait for them to retrofit a new part because they couldn't even locate the part, because it's so old," she said.

New swimming facilities would let Edison host summer classes, said Karin Temple, assistant superintendent for operational services.

The upgrades also would mean an end to late-night swimming practices. Because the existing pool is so small, Sanders said, Edison's aquatic teams have to wait their turn each night to use it.

The current space also is too shallow for competitive diving, which means the diving team has to travel to practice. A new facility would change that.

"Our parents have had continual concerns that it's not competitive for our sports," Sanders said. "The kids and parents are going to be ecstatic."

Trustee Cal Johnson, who represents the Edison High area, said the project would be a "big boost" to the school. It was recently painted, he said, but hasn't had any major upgrades in recent years.

"It would be good for water polo and for our kids," he said.

Edison's would be the latest in a string of Fresno Unified aquatic upgrades. Fresno High and Bullard got new pools in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Sunnyside's pool was built in 1999.

Temple said general fund dollars have paid for the renovations. She said Hoover is next on the list and could get approval for a new pool in early 2014.

The district will break ground at Edison by early 2015, she said.

The project is one of several construction plans — including renovations at Fresno High's Royce Hall and new paint at Roosevelt and Sunnyside — that will be pitched at Wednesday's school board meeting.

Also on tap is a proposal to authorize a lease/leaseback agreement with a Selma-based construction company to build a new McLane High classroom building.

The proposed deal with Lewis C. Nelson and Sons Inc. would build a three-story building and modernize additional buildings at the central Fresno school. The project would cost no more than $11.9 million.

The no-bid agreement would allow the company to lease the construction site for a nominal fee and be repaid by the district while the building is being erected.

The practice has been controversial and led to a lawsuit against Fresno Unified in 2012.

Fresno's Davis-Moreno Construction Inc. sued the district, saying it improperly picked Harris Construction Co. to build Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School in southwest Fresno.

Temple said Fresno Unified uses the practice "for the flexibility and control it offers us to get the quality and cost we want."

The process only allows the district to avoid competitive bidding when hiring a general contractor, she said. All subcontractors, like plumbers, roofers and electricians, are awarded a bid based on lowest cost.

 

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, hfurfaro@fresnobee.com or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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