The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District has a new aquatic center in the works, which is expected to provide much-needed competition and recreational space for student athletes and community members.
The district is planning to build the $8.2 million facility on the Paso Robles High School campus and will use a portion of the $95 million Measure M bond voters approved in 2016. The district’s Board of Trustees recently voted to begin ordering pool parts, and fundraising efforts are underway.
“We’re pretty darn excited to take the next step,” said Chris Williams, the district’s superintendent.
The facility will feature two pools, classrooms, changing rooms and public restrooms. It will be open to community clubs before and after school hours and during the summer, Williams said. He also hopes to host water sports tournaments and other events.
The aquatic center will be built in two phases. The first, which will include the pools, is expected to break ground in April and be completed by early 2019, according to the aquatic center’s fundraising site.
The district will use $5.7 million in Measure M money to build the facility and will gather the remaining $2.5 million through fundraising. The district plans to raise the first $750,000 before the April groundbreaking, Williams said.
The district is advertising on various outlets to attract donors, including the Voice of Paso and ESPN radio stations, he said.
To make room for the new facility, the portable structures that house the Bearkitten Preschool program, the Kayla Peach Memorial Foundation and other classrooms will be torn down. The Bearkitten classrooms will be moved onto the high school campus, and the foundation will be moving to a new location.
All the classes and programs will be moved to temporary locations by March, Williams said.
Water sports get a facilities upgrade
The aquatic center will be a major facility upgrade for Paso Robles High School athletics, including the boys and girls water polo and swimming and diving teams that will use the facility.
Girls water polo coach Grant East said he has a difficult time recruiting players because the team practices off campus at the city’s Municipal Pool near Flamson Middle School. Many students simply don’t know the school offers the sport, he said.
In addition, the Municipal Pool is small and has a shallow end and a deep end, which makes practices difficult, East said.
Water polo is to be played exclusively in deep water, and players are supposed to tread water the entire game. This isn’t possible in the team’s current facility, where some players practice in water shallow enough to stand up, East said.
Paso Robles, Atascadero and Santa Ynez are the only communities in the Central Coast where water polo teams use shallow-deep pools, he said.
“We’re playing in a very outdated facility,” East said. “It’s like riding a bike with training wheels, basically.”
Plus, Paso Robles High School will join the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Central Section starting next year, which will means both the girls and boys water polo teams will compete during the same season.
The current facility won’t easily accommodate both teams at the same time, making the need for a new pool even more critical, East said.
“We’re just working really hard to get all the fundraising we need,” he said.
To donate to the aquatic center’s fundraising campaign, visit the facility’s website at swimpaso.com.