TISD OKs funds for natatorium

Published on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 00:15 - Written by EMILY GUEVARA eguevara@tylerpaper.com

The Tyler ISD board of trustees committed to contribute $2 million in unused bond funds to construct

a natatorium.

The contribution is contingent on the community raising the remainder of the required funds. The unanimous decision came Monday in a board meeting.

TISD Superintendent Gary Mooring previously said it would cost at least $4 million to build a 25-meter pool and at least $7 million to build a 50-meter pool.

TISD swimmers have used the same six-lane, 25-yard pool since the 1980s. The TISD Aquatics Center is near the intersection of New Copeland Road and Shiloh Road.

In making the recommendation to the school board, Mooring described the swim program as a great program with a lot of successful students involved.

He said building a natatorium would give the district the opportunity to expand the swimming program to other schools.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” he said.

The board room was standing room only with a large group of swimmers and swimming parents present.

Six current and former swimmers and swim parents addressed the board about the issue during the public participation portion of the meeting. They spoke about the positive affect the swimming program has had on the students teaching them discipline, hard work, the ability to set and attain goals and time management.

Logan Oliver, a 2011 Lee graduate and a senior at the United States Naval Academy, said swimming has been a critical component of the academic success for him and his six siblings.

“I was able to use the discipline and time management skills I learned at Lee to succeed,” he said.

Lee senior Lauren Lewis said she experienced swimming at the TISD Aquatics Center at every level, first at swim lessons, then on the club team and finally as a TISD swimmer.

Juggling before and after school swim practices, homework from seven classes, eating and sleeping proved challenging, but it also prepared her for life and it gave her a second family.

“This program isn’t just a high school sport, but rather its own community of athletes and parents that care about each individual,” she said.

Lee senior and swimmer David Hudson said with all the accomplishments the swimmers have had in and out of the pool they have not only earned a new pool, but they also deserve one.

“Build it, and they will come,” he said.

The decision by the TISD board is just the first step.

Now, the swimming community must raise at least $2 million dollars for a new pool to become a reality.

TISD Aquatics Coordinator and Head Swim Coach Matt Franks said he and the swimming parents and students are beyond excited, but they are trying to contain their enthusiasm because they know there is a lot of work to do.

However, to see the school board recognize the accomplishments of the students and to put action behind that recognition is “a great step in the right direction,” he said.

This gives him and the swimming community the foundation they need to go out into the community and spread the vision as they seek to raise the necessary funds to make a natatorium a reality.

He said it would be great to have the funds raised by the end of the next school year and the building open by early summer 2016, if not before.

INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT

The board appointed TISD administrator Kim Tunnell as the interim superintendent.

Mrs. Tunnell has most recently served as TISD’s chief leadership and performance officer but has held several roles in the district since coming here in 2001.

In her most recent role, she supervised all campuses along with Head Start, School Improvement, Title I, Technology, Assessment and Accountability and Staff Development programs.

She played a key role in leading the development of the district’s comprehensive strategic plan.

The board also approved several personnel decisions: accepted the resignation of Andy Woods Elementary School Principal Brandon Chandler, and approved the hiring of Greg Priest as athletics director, Del Senna Frazier as early college high school director, Debra Lonsberry as Bonner Elementary School principal, Tamara Colston as Caldwell Elementary Arts Academy principal, and Dr. Eddie Dunn as Hogg Middle School principal.