A $5 million dollar natatorium was approved by Hays CISD trustees during their Aug 31 meeting as a response to the continued growth and popularity of Hays’ school swimming programs.
The decision, made on a 4-2 vote with one abstention, allows the district to move forward on an agreement with YMCA of Austin for joint use of a natatorium in Camp Cypress, which is located along Old San Antonio Road in Buda. Board president Merideth Keller abstained from voting.
Hays CISD trustees’ decision also overrides an earlier 3-3 vote in June, which caused the agreement to initially fail.
Trustee Vice President Teresa Tobias, who voted against the measure, disagreed with the timing of approving a costly item while the district faces a $3.4 million deficit.
“It’s a challenging time for this district,” Tobias said. “I don’t think anyone on this board made their decision lightly, regardless of their decision.”
Esperanza Orosco, who also voted against the decision, shared her concerns that the district should focus on more academic efforts.
“We are in a shortfall, we cannot compensate our employees adequately enough,” Orosco said. “We need to prioritize what we value.”
Several parents, teachers, coaches and even students took the opportunity to explain the importance of the school district’s swim program during the public discussion segment of the meeting.
Hays County Pct. 5 Justice of the Peace Scott Cary cited his own time as a troubled youth and how the YMCA helped change his life for the better.
“The more kids we reach through the YMCA, the less come into my courtroom,” Cary said.
Swimming coach Kaytlyn Stewart spoke on the importance of the program and how it instills confidence and leadership in the students who participate.
“I’m overwhelmingly excited,” Stewart said, after the vote was made. “I’m very excited to tell the kids.”
The discussion on a natatorium came as Hays CISD’s high school swimming programs are gaining popularity.
Currently, the Hays and Lehman High swim teams share four lanes at the Hays Communities YMCA in Buda.
However, with 20 to 30 kids in each program, coaches and students were concerned swimmers would be “swimming over each other” during practices.
The now accepted natatorium would provide ten lanes in the morning and evening to allow ample time and space for the swim teams.