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Posted on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 2 p.m.

What will become of Ann Arbor's closed middle school pools and their programs?

By Kyle Austin


The pools at Slauson and four other Ann Arbor middle schools are slated for closure this year.

Kyle Austin |

While the decision to close the swimming pools at five Ann Arbor middle schools may have helped Ann Arbor Public Schools balance its budget, it also presented a new dilemma to the district:

What to do with five empty pools?

The AAPS school board approved a budget earlier this month that included closing the district’s five middle school pools, for a savings of $70,000. Mack Pool at Ann Arbor Open School will remain open because it is owned by the city.

The other five at Slauson, Scarlett, Clague, Forsythe and Tappan middle schools will be maintained for now, but will close later this year. According to district spokesperson Liz Margolis, the AAPS facilities department is exploring “a variety of different options” for the future uses of the facilities. She declined to offer specifics on the plans, saying they would be unveiled in the coming months.


Pools like the one at Slauson hosted Rec & Ed and other programs.

Kyle Austin |

Whatever is decided, it won’t include maintaining them for aquatics unless an unexpected source of funding becomes available.

The pools currently host learn to swim programs for children and adults, as well as adult aerobics classes and middle school swim lessons.

The closures could have an effect on swimming at the high school level. Longtime Pioneer High School swim coach Denny Hill said that while the majority of his team members start swimming before middle school and are involved in local club teams, the loss of middle school pools could hurt depth.

“It will hurt our numbers,” Hill said. “There won’t be as many kids out because they won’t be exposed to it.”

Skyline High School coach Maureen Isaac said her team typically has between two and four athletes that are introduced to swimming through the middle school program. But the value of the middle school pools, she said, goes beyond adding athletes to the high school programs.

“Middle school swimming is such a positive experience, it really keeps people interested in the sport,” Isaac said.

Isaac said opportunities for pool usage -- including rentals to local clubs and other programming like Red Cross certification classes -- had been missed in recent years because no position existed to coordinate the efforts.

“I’m not convinced that those costs can’t be recouped through programming,” Isaac said.

Aside from gym class usage for the middle school pools, another main use is for Ann Arbor Rec & Ed programming. While adult aerobics classes can moved to other AAPS pool facilities, the youth swimming program will be discontinued. Ann Arbor Rec & Ed community education and recreation director Jenna Bacolor said 1,100 people signed up for swim programs during 2012, but that that number has been going downhill and the program has had a difficult time breaking even financially.

“This is a program that’s been running for many decades, so we’re very sorry to see it go,” Bacolor said.

Bacolor said her staff is working on a referral program to the city swim programs, which provide instructional swimming at a similar price point and curriculum to the Rec & Ed program.

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.


Brie Clark

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

My preschool daughter was enrolled in the Rec & Ed swim program that was supposed to start last friday. We received a call mere hours before the class was supposed to start saying that it was cancelled for the day and that an email was to follow. On monday we received an email saying that the program had be removed completely from the schedule. Lack of notice had made me very upset. But what angered me more was the fact that my little girl was so excited for this class, we were all looking forward to it. Safety is important to me and growing up knowing how to be safe around pools is a top lesson in the summer. We are a scholorship family through Rec & Ed so we cannot afford any other option. There are similar swim programs around town that would be just as good, but there is not an option for lower income families. Ann Arbor and Washtenaw county has had a long history of giving kids equal opportunity despite their family's financial background, I am afraid of this being a sign that the divide will continue to grow.


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

@Brie, go look at the AA Parks and Rec website (not Rec and Ed- that's different). Openings in classes for preschoolers starting July 1- scholarships available, but it says you have to apply in person. Go get your girl in a class today!


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

Have you tried the YMCA programs? Ann Arbor Parks and Rec (not the same as Rec and Ed)? Both have scholarships available.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

How about allowing the skateboarders access to shred in the pools?


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 1:38 a.m.

Well, it will take a while to complete the skate park, right? Charging $5 for entry to the empty pool... I bet the insurance costs would make this not a viable option.

Kyle Austin

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

That was one of the first thoughts to come to my mind, but with construction scheduled to start on a new skatepark this summer not sure there would be a need left for it:


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

So you have the funds to maintain the pools for the rest of the year, but you recently cancelled all your swimming classes for the summer. Leaving parents scrambling to find a spot in other programs, that are probably not available. I would question the new director of the AAPS PARK AND REC'S DEPT for their reasoning behind this decision. Ann Arbor has always provided the resources for kids to learn this important life saving skill. This is so sad. Especially for families that do not have the resources to be able to afford more expensive alternatives.


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

There are two different entities, AAPS Rec and Ed, and AA Parks and Rec. you appear to have merged the two together. AA Parks and Rec classes are held at Vets pool, Buhr Park pool, etc. AAPS Rec and Ed holds classes at the school pools. I can see why you're upset, but you may want to recheck your information. I just looked at the AA Parksand Rec website, and there are still openings as of of today for the classes that start July 1st. Be proactive. Go get one.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

I'd donate to keep them open.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

I was at Slauson when the old pool was there and when they built the current pool (which was a hundred times better!). They removed the old pool and turned that area into the "lower gym." Basketball hoops were installed, we played floor hockey in there, etc... The current pool was an addition built on the school specifically for that purpose. I can't see them doing something similar because another gym is not needed. But, if they're closing five pools to save $70K (which equates to $14K per school), I bet it would cost them a LOT more to tear out the pool and renovate the whole thing with classrooms or whatever, which defeats the purpose of closing the pool to save money to begin with. I hope they find some funding to keep it open.

A A Resident

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

"Isaac said opportunities for pool usage -- including rentals to local clubs and other programming like Red Cross certification classes -- had been missed in recent years because no position existed to coordinate the efforts." Wow, just wow! There wasn't a designated position for this, so it wasn't done? Does that represent the general state of affairs and thinking in our public schools? Won't it be great if they can teach our kids that "not my job" mentality?!


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

AA Resident, I have a legit question. Whose job would it fall under? If you have a suggestion, great. But perhaps you are the one with the limited thinking. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people who do NOTHING in their kids school, never volunteer, say "they" should do this or that. By "they", they mean me, the active volunteer. While the do- nothing's continue to do nothing. It's easy to make the suggestions or complaints. But actually making the effort to carry them out is a different story. But I'm sure that's more limited thinking.

$5,000 is just pennies

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

The 3 Athletic Director positions should all be supervisory positions as is the Skyline AD position. Pioneer and Huron AD's are also Asst. Principals who have administration duties. Skyline is paid about $60,000 while the other two are paid $105,000 plus the benefits of the AAAA union. The two AD's /Asst Principals also have additional part time workers to handle athletic events so they don't have to even be out of their office. But they still collect a stipend for being in the building while an athletic event is being held. Another double dipping job that citizens pay for while some athletic programs are being shut down or downsized. At some outdoor stadium events (not football) there are always multiple AAPS staff present who are paid supervisory rates to handle their specific responsibilities. Another example of too many people but no one person in charge.


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 10:56 a.m.

3 High School Athletic Directors who each have an administrative support person available. You would think if there was a revenue opportunity that they would be on it. This is part of the problem - no ONE person is responsible for the various sports facilities across the whole of the school district, so if it is not specifically someone's job it is NO one's job. Want some fun, talk to the Rec&Ed people about what sports facilities are completely off limits to Rec&Ed programs... You, will be surprised, I know I was when I asked the question and got the answer.

A A Resident

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

Wow, perfectly illustrative of the limited thinking I was talking about. Has anyone asked around for volunteers, like some Mom who wants her children to have continued access to the pool? Oh, I forgot, an official paid position hasn't been created for someone who will ask around. LOL


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

That's why I asked the people who suggested getting UM or other businesses to sponsor keeping the pools open, "who" will be the person responsible for pursuing these sponsorships? I'm not aware it's anyone's job, so it would either "become" someone's added responsibility, or the district would have to hire someone and pay them with money they don't have. I'm curious whose responsibility in the district this sponsorship pursuit/ renting of pools could become, vs. hiring someone. It's easy to make suggestions if you aren't the one who has to carry them out.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

For many kids, this is free swim lessons for them. It is a shame that these pools will be there and not be used for kids to learn to swim and to exercise as well.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

This is really a shame. I went to Clague back in the day and swimming was part of PE class. Kids looked forward to it and I remember practicing diving. Plus, we used the pool for special school events. I remember one ice cream social-type event where we had a "dunk the teacher" game using the pool and diving board. Just doesn't seem worth it to close them all down.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:42 a.m.

I attended Forsythe Junior High School and learned how to swim in that pool. Our gym teacher, Mr. Dean, had a student teacher who came in and taught swim lessons during "gym". At 12yrs old I was very afraid of the water. However, given the chance to learn how to swim took me to places I only dreamed of as a child. From that moment forward, I've swam in all five of the Great Lakes, two oceans and one sea. I made sure that my kids learned how to swim also. Again, in the AAPS pools. For $70K the school board should clearly find other ways to balance the budget. That's about the salary of one assistant principal at any of the high schools, which seems to have quite a few of them.

An Arborigine

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

Rick Snyder memorial jobs pool? Proudly carrying the water of the right-wing while my state is downing.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

Pools should be limited to the high schools. If younger kids want to learn to swim, there are plenty of public pools available in the city, indoor and outdoor. As far as one poster's rationale that middle school "boys" need as much exercise as possible, there are plenty of other sports to satisfy this: basketball, baseball, football, regular PE classes.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 4:41 a.m.

No, JRW, there are NOT plenty of indoor public pools in this city. Mack and the county rec center (as you pointed out to me as a reply to my earlier comment which was correct on your part) are the ONLY two public INDOOR pools in this city. The outdoor ones close on Labor Day, no matter the weather, and do not reopen until Memorial Day. The Y is private and the 4 UM pools, EMU and WCC are not open to the public. WCC you can join like the Y (for $60 something a month, I believe, but that does not make it public). Mack (I can't speak for the rec center) has a pay as you go system (or you can save and buy a pass) so that if someone without means wants to come use the pool sporadically, they can during open swim hours and it would be $5 here and $5 there, not a big chunk of change all at once. As far as I know, Mack is the only indoor pool (except for possibly the rec center) in this city where you can do that, thus public.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:45 a.m.

There are also plenty of public educational centers to teach kids too. Its called the streets. Why have public schools? We can just let kids learn about life by experiencing life on the streets. Problem solved. No money. Free life lessons.

Basic Bob

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:59 a.m.

We already have pools. They cost little to operate. Less than one extra principal.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

I like the idea of sponsorship as a way to see if we can keep the pools open. I was just wondering though, is there any possibility of having a small special millage (something like the tech bond, or sinking fund) specifically designated for the middle school pools? It seems like a ridiculously small amount of savings to justify this move, and I would support eliminating one administrator to do solve this problem. I am totally against giving AAPS more tax dollars because they waste our money, but I would consider a small additional tax designated for the pools. There would have to be safeguards so AAPS would not have any opportunity to pilfer the $$ to pay for administrators, or new superintendents!


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

A "sinking fund" for a pool? Hmm ...

Glenna Deangelis

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

There are schools around the Traverse City/ Harbor Springs area that rent their pools out to be used for Physical Therapy. Some have chair lifts installed for those who cannot manage the steps. One even has a Thread Mill in the pool for exercise. More and more elderly people are having hip and knee replacements and need to exercise in a pool.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 3:17 a.m.

I think this is a great idea... how about combining it with a U of M student phys. therapy program?


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

My experience: my high school aged kid never go to use the pool in middle school. It was being redone (Forsythe) at the time. My current middle schooler did have swimming in PE. She already has excellent swimming skills, but she definitely saw the benefit for those who couldn't swim. The other benefit of the pool being open was for the peer mentoring program at Forsythe ( not sure if they have this program at other middle schools). Students who choose to take the Peer Mentoring program class work with other students in the special Ed classroom. They would take turns in the pool each week ( not everyone could go every week for safety reasons). The pool closing will definitely impact this program. What I'm wondering is: is the pool at Highpoint / WISD still in use? This was the best pool for my kids to learn to swim, due to the warmer temperature, and the shallow end was great! I also am curious whether parents get their kids into classes at Vets pool in the summer still, or for teens, utilize the YMCA at $10 per month (no registration fee)? If you're a member, the classes are less expensive. The other program at the YMCA that was FREE was for third and fourth graders for one week, a few weeks in the summer. Water safety classes, basic swimming, and they had some kind of grant that covered the cost so it was free. The schools usually put out a flier at the end of the school year about it. Just some ideas/ suggestions. I know not everyone can get there, but perhaps for a week they could try.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

It is absolutely VITAL that all kids learn to swim! I think it should be a requirement for graduation. former Head Coach, A2Y

Go Blue

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

And it was so necessary to build a new high school that took years for all grades to attend. The community said NO to another high school because it was not needed. Parents and the community were ignored and it was built. Now we're in a crunch, eliminating far too many things from our school system and still paying for a high school that was not necessary. Here we go again.

West Side Mom

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 1:17 a.m.

Construction of the new high school was approved by the voters. What we are paying for are the additional operating costs of adding a 3 comprehensive high school. That wasn't covered by the bond approved by the voters.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

How about consolidating principals, no reason why one can't manage 3-4 schools, it's not like they have to drive 100 miles to make the rounds. If they want to earn the big bucks let them work for it.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:59 a.m.

When a lead teacher is "appointed assistant principal in the principal's absence", that teacher has a sub. Would you like your kid to be in the classroom which is led by the lead teacher, and therefore has a sub half of the school year due to principal sharing? What if it's a fifth grade teacher who is preparing her students for middle school, and she's the fill in for the principal, so her class has a substitute teacher half the year? Think your kid will get as much preparation as the class whose teacher only misses a few days a year due to illness? Just something to consider. I'm not against principal sharing as a concept, but there are potential repercussions to the students. It would have to be thought out.

Basic Bob

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:58 a.m.

Why are all the meetings at Balas necessary? Maybe they could try Webex?


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:06 a.m.

Principals already spend a good part of their week at Balas meetings, so they are not in their schools "full time." Things function just fine. Appoint a teacher as an assistant principal in the principal's absence.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

Pool closings will save a pittance. Firing some of the incompetent managers at Balas will recoup that money many, many times over. What is keeping the board from making cuts at Balas??


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 10:31 p.m.

I am one the middle school PE teachers that taught swimming at one of the middle schools. To hear that closing the pools will save the district $70,000 a year is nothing when you consider that it could save a life! I have 4-6 students every year that do not know how to swim at all! I stay after school and give free swimming lessons to these students. The district does not provide lifeguards for us, so it's hard to teach students who are afraid of the water or can't swim - when there are 30-40 students in a class. If I have that many student that can't swim then there are about 40 students in all of the middle school who can't swim. Many of these student won't learn if they don't in middle school! This year I had a 6th grade student who was a pretty good swimmer, I asked him where he learned to swim. He replied, "My brothers taught me". His two brothers were students I taught to swim, and then they taught their younger brother! In the State of Michigan, where there is water everywhere - learning to swim could save their life!


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 3:15 a.m.

Thanks Teacher87 for your service to the community. I think this is a great example of why those who complain about teacher pay and benefits might not take into account all the things teachers do for free because they want to impact a kids' life. It doesn't sound like you were receiving "extra" for this service, just caring about kids.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:49 a.m.

You rock Teacher87!

Kyle Austin

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

Thanks for your insight, Teacher87. I had talked to coaches about the competitive swimming aspect of it, but the safety aspect of having kids learn to swim another large component here.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

My kids learned to swim in the Rec & Ed swim lesson program at the MS pools. They provide the right kind environment for this sort of thing. Even started with the baby-parent lesson. The high school pools are too big and deep for teaching little kids how to swim. My kids went on to have successful swimming careers in high school. But, I had always attributed their successes, first, to the swim lessons at the MS's. I have nothing to lose, anymore. But I think it would be wrong to close them for good.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

In Michigan Water Wonderland, kids need to know how to swim. The earlier the better.

Dexter Man

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

I learned alot about swimming and water safety at Tappan. I think they cost a quarter and on a really warm day it was the place to go. Eventually,not while I was kid they built Vets and the others , the problem was that once the summer was over the pools closed. The middle schools always seemed to have times open.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

"Bacolor said her staff is working on a referral to the city swim programs..." NEWSFLASH: There is ONE indoor city pool called Mack. That's right. One public indoor pool, the only one the public may use at VERY limited times throughout our long winter. Most of Mack's operational hours are already taken so there is NO place to refer the 1100 swimmers who signed up for Rec and Ed in 2012. She said they barely broke even. Can you really put a value on teaching people to swim and drown-proofing people, especially kids? Also, Slauson's pool is a REAL pool and a nice one. I say real because the other middle schools are only 3 lanes. Slauson's, like most common indoor pools is the regulation 25 yards with 6 lanes. Other groups do rent it out thus bringing income to AAPS. And I imagine the other middle schools as well, so my question is, why aren't the schools continuing to rent out their pools for income? Yes, it does cost money to run pools. But they are more necessary and valuable than some of you might think. It's not just for "rich kids". Someone at AAPS ought to be able to figure out how to open those pools up for more rental/income time because I assure you, they are not being used to their full potential at all. That's the problem. Not the pools themselves. @Don. Seriously? Where do you get off thinking teachers work 7 months a year. Even saying they work 9 is a myth as well as an insult. Teachers do get a mere 9 week break in the summer to take classes and prepare for the next school year. When teachers are home during the school year, they do school work. And the pension you mentioned? Yes, for their years of service for their modest public salary they chose to take rather than a corporate possibly higher salary, teachers were promised roughly half of their last salary for 30 years of service to the community (pre-2010). If you have a problem with that, I suggest you try teaching and try living on both salary then the pension after you turn old


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 4:29 a.m.

@JRW, yes, you are correct, the county rec center is public, though, think about taking 1100+ swimmers (that's just Rec and Ed, not students) and instead of spreading them out into what are currently 6 pools (6 middle schools), now we are talking 1 one of those schools plus the rec center. Somehow, I think that would leave way too many people unable to learn or participate. And the Y is not public, it's private. Likewise, so is the somewhat new and nice facility at WCC. And the 4 UM pools are not open to the public. Same for EMU.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:08 a.m.

Re: indoor pools, aren't there indoor pools at the Rec center on Washtenaw and at the Y downtown?

Kyle Austin

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

We've updated the story with more information from Bacolor, including the trends in participation and finance for the Red & Ed swim program. Participation has been declining and the program has had a hard time breaking even.


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 2:06 a.m.

Goldfish is $78/month. It is higher than most places. We just started going and I was mostly motivated by the recommendations of a few friends because I know money is tight for them and they would only spend that much if they thought it was really worth it. They think the warm water and the particular teaching method that they use is really effective and teaches their kids to swim extremely quickly. We are too new to the place for me to give a personal recommendation. My child did like the warm water at his first lesson though!


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 1:31 a.m.

I have no idea if they have a sliding scale at Goldfish. I suspect the answer is no, and without knowing any "inside information," I'm guessing it's because they are a for-profit business. The YMCA does have a sliding scale, however, and a 'community service' orientation. From discussions with a friend who advocated scholarships for some low-income families, I would guess that they would try to find a way to get a truly need kid into swim lessons if approached.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 3:34 a.m.

@kuriooo, how does pricing at Goldfish compare to Rec and Ed? Are free classes available for low income families?


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 3:11 a.m.

Well, I'm one of those parents who sends their kids to Goldfish. It's extremely popular..I always see people I recognize there, also from various income brackets. The warmth of the water is a big deal to me... my kids didn't even want to get in the water at Mack because the pool was so cold!


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

Kyle, I remember when getting into a swim class at Rec and Ed was really challenging. I was online at midnight when registration opened signing my kids up to get an open spot before they filled up. Hard to believe that's changed, but it sounds like it has if enrollment is declining.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

I have the impression that Goldfish sim school is rather pricey, but I only looked one time a while back. Has that changed?


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

I know we stopped using them for lessons because the Tappan pool was always so cold and often had some sort of malfunction or another. Goldfish has really had an impact on the swim school market here I think. I know people from all different income levels who choose to go there.

Joe Hood

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

If participation has been declining, have the programs been short changed in the past several years?


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

Pools are a luxury. I was surprised to learn that high schools here have pools, let alone the junior highs.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

I think part of what a2cents is saying that pools in middle schools are somewhat unusual. I know that the district that I grew up in, a little west of Detroit, which is comparable in size to Ann Arbor, did not have pools in the middle schools. We did have them in our high schools, but not the middle schools. I have been through school buildings in a number of areas here in Michigan, and Ann Arbor is one of the very few I have seen with middle school pools. That being said, for the budget numbers in question, I would like to see them stay open. I would make the necessary adjustment to the new superintendent's salary to keep the pools open.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 10 p.m.

I would be interested to know where you spent your school years. They didn't used to be a luxury here. Ann Arbor has always had a high standard of living and the taxes to go along with it. Things should get better..not worse. Someone should take a close look at where the money does go...line by line and the voters should decide what is necessary and what is important to them, not the people who are chosen to administrate.

Joe Hood

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

I used to dream of living in a box in a road...I suppose luxury depends on your perspective. Why are pools a luxury for this generation of kids but not the last?


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

just another way for the public schools to say how broke we are! Teachers only work 7 months out of the year, and have pensions which no one else has. aaps has a long history of taking everything away the public wants so the administration can cry see how poor we are! Sack one of them! take away life long benefits, and you could pay for lots of pools.

Chester Drawers

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

Since the kids attend school from the beginning of September until the middle of June, how in the world do you figure teachers only work 7 months/year????


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

What a shame the pools are closing. It was a wonderful way to teach kids about water safety and to improve their swimming.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

Convene a group of citizens including representatives of Athletic Directors of the three larger AA high schools and Rec and Ed. The AA school administration has little stake in their operation so look to turn over control to those closely aligned with aquatic exercise and sports. May not be able to find a productive use for all MS pools but it seems a high probability some can be used with costs covered.

Kyle Austin

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

Thanks for your comment, Dan. I also wondered if closing some of the pools and leaving some others open was considered as a possibility

Lou Apostolakis

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

Funny thing, private swim clubs build pools and turn a profit after servicing the debt and covering operating costs. The public sector can't even turn a profit when they only have to deal with operating costs.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

Oh that is funny. I guess that first question they ask you when you apply for those private clubs really makes sense. We should start asking how much money everyone has before they can be considered for the "public" category! Shoot we could even get rid of poverty, just reclassify "them". Public sector, private sector and those without enough money to be either. Ahahahahahaha. What a hoot.

Dog Guy

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

Hey Lou, are you available to be AAPS superintendent?


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

The Tappan pool could be cooled down just a couple of degrees and used as an ice rink ... ice time goes for big bucks! On the serious side, I hate to see the pools go and agree with the poster that perhaps putting them in the hands of Rec & Ed to sink or swim could help. I understand the budget balancing act for AAPS and every penny helps, but the $70k to keep them open is such a small amount compared to the overall budget.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

I am getting tired of hearing residents and AAPS adminstrators pointing the finger at the state's cutting of funding as the reason for shutting down so many student programs and facilities. While funding has gone down, we have created more and more administrative positions, many of which are redundant and perfectly expendable. You mean to tell me that having an AAPS full time spokesperson (whose salary is over $75K) is more important than having working pools for our middle school students? Give me a break. Less adminstrative overhead: more $$$.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

TheDiagSquirrel...Right ON!! We need fewer administrative positions....that would go a long way in reducing the budget deficit. I also hope the citizens of AA will vote in some new Board Members at the next opportunity. Let's get some financially knowledgeable people on the School Board!!


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

When my son was in middle school at Tappan, back in the late 80's, the Ann Arbor Y swim team practiced and held meets at various middle school pools. Does the Y still have a swim team for middle school kids? The kids traveled all over to compete all winter. It was great exercise and great fun. In the summer, lots of the Y team kids joined teams at various swim clubs around the city.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:20 a.m.

I was Head Coach at the Y during those years. The pool at the old Y was too short, and too hot for use by competitive swimmers. The old Y team as I knew it was a great experience for kids. The Y team fell apart in the 90s I believe.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

Liberty athletic club only has 4 lanes, I believe, and they still hold meets.

Kyle Austin

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

One notable thing about holding competitions at these pools is that only Slauson has six lanes, usually the minimum for holding competitions.

West Side Mom

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

The Y still has a swim team that middle schoolers can join. The Barracudas practice in the Y pool. Interesing idea about having the Y team practice at the middle school pools. Swim team practice lanes are limited at the Y because of the need to keep lanes open for lap swimmers. Having too many kids sharing one lane detracts from the experience.

Local Reader

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

I voted to keep them open and seek outside sources of funding. It has amazed me during the raising of my kids that we were hard pressed to find exercise during the winter. Pools stand idle at hotels and schools, and our only choice was the high priced YMCA or the smaller pool at Merilou. How many times would we have paid 20 bucks to go swimming with the kids for an afternoon! Winter weekends, with the right marketing, you could really attract the local population who can pretty much walk to these pools. Kids Need Exercise in the winter!

Kyle Austin

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:05 p.m.

That's a good point about winter exercising. A lot of people talked about the options for summer swim clubs through local country clubs, but obviously that wouldn't be available during the school year


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

How about drain them and don't do anything with them? This isn't a permanent crisis. In three or four years, at most, they'll be able to re-open them. The big problem right now is the school Board is trying to avoid dealing with the funding drop. Can't completely blame them - this was a once in a lifetime housing bubble, and it's a lousy time to be a Board member. Certainly doesn't help that the Governor is making things worse in a misguided attempt to encourage businesses to hire by throwing money at them.

West Side Mom

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 1:11 a.m.

@chapmaja - if what you say is true (and I have no reason to believe it's not), the BOE either made a very short sighted decision or made a decision with long-term impacts without either knowing the nature of the decision or giving the pubic fair notice of it.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 3:26 a.m.

Thats a great idea, but is not accurate. Pools are not as eay to shut down and restart as people think. The AAPS MS pools are old, which is also a problem. The district only has two options. Keep them filled with water, and thus keep adding chemcials to them, as required for health department code. The only savings from this would be not heating the pool. Since these are indoor pools, they need to be chemcially treated and circulated with water to prevent bacterial growth. Option two is to drain the pools. This saves the money from having to keep chemicls in the pool, but comes with a price. Pool filtrations systems and pipes are designed to have water running through them. By draining them and keeping them dry for an extended period of time, the systems dry out and will begin to suffer damage. This doesn't happen if a pool is drained for a couple months, but when the pool and pipes are dry for years and years they get damaged. When they become damaged there is not a cheap way to fix them. Fixing them would require digging up the pipes and replacing them, and possibly replacing filter and pumps systems as well.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

Mr Austin - They can be decked over for a minimal amount of money compared to building additions on the buildings, but most of the middle schools currently have space available, they are not full.

Kyle Austin

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

I think if there was an option to repurpose them for a minimal amount of money but leave them available to become pools again, that would be the best option. But I'm not sure what that option would be

West Side Mom

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

Agreed. I didn't think closing the pools this year was a decision to abandon them entirely. There are more solutions to the issue that repurposing the space - which in itself is going to cost $$$$.

Dog Guy

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:10 p.m.

John of Saline's suggestion of corporate sponsorship is good. Alternatively, a bleacher-ringed drained pool would be perfect for safe educational exhibitions of natural selection involving representative Ursidae, Canis, and Gallus species separately or mixed. (Genus Homo conflicts already have school sports venues.)


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

What's wrong with this picture? Why were we able to have free sports, swimming pools, art classes and other things when I was in Ann Arbor schools and not now? What caused these things to now be extras? I'm thinking that personnel costs and administrative costs have become so high that there is no room for any of the things we took for granted in the past. By the way, I spent my summers swimming in Forsyth's pool. It was the highlight of my summer. It's also a shame that the parks can't provide summer activities for the kids. Again, what happened to the money that was used for that?


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 10:45 a.m.

Steve - Yes, they are prohibited from using bond money for operations. But, they have the bond money to pay for things that operations funds used to pay for (it is called the general fund for a reason - at one time it paid for almost everything). Think of it this way. As a parent I might buy my child a bus pass, and then give them allowance too. This means (unless they do something dumb) that they allowance does not have to pay for transportation, it can be used for other things. This is how the bonds and other local millages work. They remove expenses from the general fund and put them in other "buckets", leaving more of the general fund to pay salaries. This is why the district: 1) Dumped the library and made them get their own funding opening up several million dollars a year for other things. 2) Passed the sinking fund - taking roughly 12 million a year in maintenance out of the general fund 3) Passed the various bond millages (as late at 2004 the district was paying some of the cost of bonds out of the general fund - according to audit reports. 4) Got the WISD special education millage passed - gaining reimbursement on what had been unreimbursed general fund expenses for teachers, etc. 5) Was a contributor to the Durant Suit, which provided increased reimbursement for special education (adding (4) and (5) together means reimbursement for roughly 86% of the general fund costs for special education. No, you can NOT directly pay salaries out of the bond money - BUT you can unload almost every other expense into other funds and then use almost ALL of the general fund to pay salaries. The "You can't" is a canard that is being used to plead poor. The district spends over $420,000 per classroom of 30 students each year. The teacher costs the district (salary, benefits, retirement, etc) $104,000. So ask yourself - where does the other $316,000 go?


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1 a.m.

DonBee-Mike W is correct. School districts are prohibited from using any bond money for operating expenses. Basically, if you vote for it, the money is designated for one and only one purpose and may not be used towards the daily operation of the district. For example, the skyline bond was only used to construct the school. None of that bond money could be used to operate the school. The per pupil allowance is what makes up the general fund which then covers all operating expenses. While a large chunk of the operating expenses is salaries of the district employees(which should be expected), the money to operate boilers and swimming pools, pay for utilities, buy teaching materials like textbooks and graph paper, and general daily maintenance supplies and materials are all additional operating expenses that are covered by the general fund. Prior to Proposal A a school millage was used to operate the school. The examples you cite do not provide AAPS with additional operating expenses.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:49 a.m.

aamom - If the state law had not changed, we would have ended up with a lawsuit for discrimination. That lawsuit would have seen a federal judge deciding how much money each district got. Ann Arbor with far more affluent - on average - families probably would have been at the bottom of the barrel and the local millages probably would not have been allowed. A classroom of 30 students generates more than $420,000 in revenue from all sources for the district. The teacher costs $104,000 per year. Where does the other $316,000 dollars go? That is the question you should be asking.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:17 p.m.

We used to be able to afford to pay our teacher's salaries before we became a donor district.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

Mike W - If your statement was true we would not have: 1) Technology bond 2) Skyline high school bond 3) Sinking fund 4) WISD special education millage Between them they bring more than $5,000 per student that does not have to come out of the general fund that is now used almost exclusively to pay for salaries. All of these are locally passed millages.

Mike W

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

Because these budget cuts are being imposed at the State level, not by any local decision. Back in the '90s we ceded control over local school funding to the State through Prop A. At the time everyone thought it was a great solution to lower property taxes but we didn't stop to think that we were giving up local control of our school funding. Today the State decides that we need to gut school funding across the board, and every local district has to comply. Other districts have it much worse than Ann Arbor. Look around and you'll find districts that have eliminated all sports, arts and extra-curriculars, stopped school busing entirely and still have to close already-full schools.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

We had a tax base, that's what happened. There used to be light manufacturing within the city of AA, not so much any more. The University didn't salivate every time they thought they could buy something and take it off the property tax (and school millage paying) rolls. We had a viable downtown that had .... oh my god, shopping. And we had people who understood that young teens (middle school aged) are the ones that will be getting in trouble on the water, say in one of those canoes we used to rent?


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

My high school turned their former pool into classrooms.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

they split the former pool into classroom size squares and leveled the floors within the "rooms". They were, of course, windowless rooms, but for all intents and purposes felt like regular classrooms. The only hint that they used to be in a pool was at one end of the hall there were 5 steps down into the classroom, the next room only three steps down, the next room only one step down.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

Either that or the students were issued scuba gear.

Kyle Austin

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

Interesting, seekingsun, I haven't heard of that. I take it it involved filling the pools in?


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

Why do the youth swimming programs have to be discontinued, while the adult aerobics program can be moved to other aaps facilities?

Kyle Austin

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

One of the things that was mentioned was the amount of shallow water space available. Adult classes can be held in deeper water, while youth learn to swim classes can't.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:43 p.m.

There we so many ways to avoid this and the layoff of teachers. The fact that the district has 48 members of the Principal's union and 31 school buildings should give you a clue. If the district was more focused on Physical Education and less on Varsity Sports, the pools could have stayed open too. Or they could have sold the Freeman School Property in Dixboro... Or... Instead the board bought into the options the Administration presented with little or no change when you look at the initial list and the final results.

Basic Bob

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:52 a.m.

The longest currently serving head principal makes few appearances. Graduation is one. I'm not saying he doesn't have a busy schedule operating the school behind the scenes, but one has to wonder. Even if we allow for 3 at each large high school, 2 at each middle school, and 4 athletic directors, there are 2 without an assignment.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

skigrl50 - We don't need more Principals in the large high schools, we need people to deal with discipline issues and scheduling issues that the student cannot resolve. Neither of these takes a principal to do. A good Administrative Assistant can (if empowered) handle all the schedule issues, and a good councilor can handle all but the more major discipline issues. In most cases more efficiently then the current Principals, who seem from observation to turn to someone and say: "go handle this". No, we don't need more administrators at the principal level, we need more "do-ers" at a level down who can be empowered to handle things. There are a few principals who are never seen outside their offices in the high schools now, if you don't believe me ask any student at any high school how many times they saw their principal in the hallway during passing time or stepping into a classroom or ... anywhere but their office. I will not name names, but more of the high school students know exactly which principals I am talking about.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:10 p.m.

Don Bee - But keep in mind that only having 1 administrator at the 3 large high schools would be just crazy.

Joe Hood

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

17 extra principals? Wouldn't that excess wipe away the deficit?


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:41 p.m.

Since Rec & Ed participants have been paying AAPS a substantial fraction of the cost of operating and maintaining the Middle School pools through their fees, I doubt that AAPS will actually see even half of the projected savings. I strongly suggest that the middle school pools should be controlled and scheduled through Rec & Ed, who will revise their fee schedule to cover 100% of the cost of maintenance. That would let Rec & Ed keep or even expand their swimming, life saving, and water aerobics programs for children and adults. Rec & Ed could even rent the pools back to AAPS for the hours during which students use the pools for swimming lessons embedded in PE classes.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 5:18 a.m.

Unfortunately, according to the story above, enrollment in Rec and Ed swim classes has been declining. I'm not sure increasing prices will bring in more people. They will have to look at other options. I find it difficult to believe that enrollment is decreasing in swim classes, personally, as I remember when my kids were younger it was difficult to get them in some classes due to the high demand. Are there really LESS parents these days who want their kids to learn to swim? I think Rec and Eds prices have to be some of the least expensive deals out there.

John of Saline

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

Sell sponsorships. "This pool's operations sponsored by Meijer."


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 5 p.m.

WHO would "get U of M to do this?"


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

Sponsored by UofM athletics. Getting the local university to sponsor the pools at a price we all know they could afford.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 3:42 a.m.

John, who do you propose "sell the sponsorships"? Who would run that program and be in charge of it? Ideas are super, but someone has to carry them out. Just curious who you had in mind to lead the process. Any thoughts?

John of Saline

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

With the RIGHT sponsors, lots of fun to be had. Imagine the reaction if Walmart sponsored one.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

You know, I normally detest sponsorship and ads, but you might just be onto something there.

Joe Hood

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:27 p.m.

You mean for less than the salary of an administrator (one that has been sacked from a school and should have been fired but the system is afraid of a lawsuit), kids in five middle schools could learn to swim?


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:34 a.m.

My son does not need to be doped on Ritalin or need copious exercise to be able to concentrate during school. Perhaps your kid does, but lets not generalize. I've seen some teachers who have recess in elementary school either right before or right after lunch, (immediately following recess at lunch), or at the end of the day, all of which have been wasteful (why not have a break mid-morning or mid-afternoon instead). Swimming is a valuable life skill, not a substitute for self control in boys. Certainly if a particular boy needs this much bounce around time, home schooling might be the better, more flexible option.

Joe Hood

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

Schools have skimped on running around time for kids from when we grew up. If you view school purely from an academic point of view, why do they need to run around? But the skimping on running around has really hit hard on the boys; Unless they are doped up on Ritalin, they need to be exercised to be able to concentrate. And swimming, unlike running and jumping, as well as any other exercise can be done with a less than able body.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

DeeDee, I grew up in Ann Arbor and was blessed to have parents that thought it was a good idea that my siblings and I all learned how to swim. We took swimming lessons from an early age through Rec and Ed at Tappan and other pools. I am not sure what your point is. As an adult, I have lived in towns that have no public swimming pools, even in the high schools, so finding swimming lessons for my kids involved lotteries for lessons at the Y and standing in line for hours to win a spot in private swim schools held in peoples backyards. So, I would say having these pools open to not just middle school students is a good thing. Yes, it is a luxury, but for many it is one of the things that made growing up in Ann Arbor special. And as a taxpayer, I would like to think that I'm getting some luxuries for the higher taxes that I pay her.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

When I was in school, we had pools in high school only. Why do they need them in middle school in particular? Why not teach kids to swim in elementary school? There are lots of ways to get exercise into the school day that are far less expensive (and take less time for transition) than swimming.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:14 p.m.

Since when do middle schools need pools?

Chester Drawers

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 8:05 p.m.

My girls learned to swim long before they were in middle school, and never dipped a toe into the pool at Slauson. We never belonged to a private swim club. I think people are overreacting about the possible terrible effects of these pool closings.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:32 a.m.

Have you ever swum 500 yards in a lake to save a drowning non-swimmer who fell from his boat? Have you ever pulled a non-swimmer out of the Pacific ocean, only to have him die as you performed CPR! Swimming is a VERY important life skill.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional death in the United States. One fifth of those deaths are children under the age of 14. The fatal drowning rate of African American children ages 5 to 14 is almost three times that of white children in the same age range. I say we continue to fund children learning how to swim. Swimming is a life lesson and is a great workout. Graduation rates amongst those who are involved with sports and clubs is higher than those non-participants. Not only can one learn how to swim at a pool, you learn discipline, respect, and most importantly, a possibly life saving skill!

Joe Hood

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

Since there are still boys in school and they need as much physical exertion as humanly possible to keep them academically on track. But that's only one reason. Unless you feel only the well off should swim.