The Albany Aquatic Center is currently running at an estimated annual deficit of up to $170,000, school officials told the last week.
The deficit is projected to continue "for the next few years," Assistant Superintendent Laurie Harden told the board.
"The program struggles to support itself," said Harden, adding that Pool Director Amanda Garcia "is trying very hard and doing a great job trying to make that program self-supporting."
She said the Aquatic Center has been in the red approximately $10,000 to $15,000 per month over the past four to five months.
But Harden cautioned that, given the pool's short history, it's tough to do an accurate analysis of the program's finances. (The Aquatic Center had its in February.)
She said, with summer coming, the Aquatic Center's financial picture could begin to look up.
"The summer programs could be their ... money maker," she told the board. "They may do a great job that will support the program throughout next year. We don't know."
She said the district hopes the pool "will really generate a significant amount of revenue" in the summer months.
Harden said she is hopeful that this could mean less of a deficit in the program's future. But staffing costs could also rise during a busier season, she said.
She noted start-up costs with the training of staff as one contributor to the deficit.
Harden said it would take a full year of operations, including a monthly breakdown of expenses and revenue, to have a better sense of the program's financial situation.
"It's very difficult at this point" to get a handle on the finances, she said, "and we're doing everything we can, but we don't have a good projection for chemicals, for utilities, for staffing."
The district is looking at ways to streamline the program's budget, and might consider staffing cuts.
"It'll just take time," said Harden.
In the worst case scenario, the district may shut down the outdoor pool during winter, prior to swim season, to save on staff and heating costs.
said it would be important for the board to receive a full report in September.
"The program could change because it's still building," Low said. "But we don't really have that luxury. We need to be as responsible as possible with that amount of deficit at this point. We need to know in September what is going on. And we need to know, if you close, if you decide to do savings and close one pool, how much will that lower the deficit spending? Because that is a significant amount in our General Fund."
asked if it would be possible also to receive a report from the district about how much other school facilities, such as the school gym and , which also serve students, cost the district.
Harden said it would be a challenge to figure out how much it costs to operate Cougar Field, but said the district might be able to provide electricity costs for the facility.
Low said it would be good to know the energy costs and be able to investigate whether it would be possible to reduce them in some way.
Harden said the pool has a separate meter for electricity, and that the district is tracking the cost of chemicals and other expenses.
The district can also look at what programs the Aquatic Center is offering, and how much those programs bring in vs. their operation costs.
"The issue is, of course, staff," said Harden. "Staffing is expensive. It's the 'people part' that is the expensive part."
told that the board that the pool construction costs continue to be within the $10 million budget for the project, despite a $132,221 change order approved by the board last week. The extra money for the change order will be provided by the construction contingency set aside as part of the project budget.
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