York City discusses reopening its high school swimming pools

Meredith Willse
York Dispatch

William Penn Senior High School has two pools — one for swimming competitions and one dive tank — that have been shuttered since 2009.

At various points, district officials have attempted to reopen the pools, which have become storage areas for classroom furniture. In 2017, the district and state lawmakers announced a plan to raise $1.2 million to make necessary renovations with an eye toward reopening them in 2019.

That date came and went, and the pools continued to deteriorate.

Now, the school board is revisiting the issue.

“There was some interest in reopening the pool,” Superintendent Andrea Berry said.

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Berry said the hope is that pool usage could once again be integrated into the curriculum. It would allow the high school to bring back a swim team — and it could be opened to teach students districtwide how to swim.

Dr. Andrea Berry, Superintendent of Schools, speaking at the York City School District press conference to announce its exit from financial recovery status in York on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022.

The district's recent exit from financial recovery, meanwhile, makes the massive project a bit more realistic — although school officials say they don't yet have an estimate on how much the reopening project could cost.

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Previously, the pools were closed because they weren't deep enough for swimming competitions, thus leaving the district vulnerable to lawsuits.

According to the district, a survey last month showed the majority of students wanted the pools reopened.

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A handful of residents who spoke out at the board's May 2 meeting also supported bringing the pools back. Some recalled participating in the class, which was a requirement for them to graduate.

State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, left, and York City school board member Juanita Kirkland, second from left, survey the William Penn Senior High swimming pool and dive tank with fourth-graders from McKinley K-8. (Photo: Jason Addy)

Of course, the question of finances remain.

As Berry noted, current budget projections could call for tax increases in the years ahead, and it's not yet clear what additional state or federal money could be available for such an infrastructure project.

— Reach Meredith Willse at mwillse@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.