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Palm Coast Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 3 years ago

Flagler Schools gives volunteer group chance to save Belle Terre pool

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Plans will be finalized at Oct. 20 school board meeting.
by: Jacque Estes Community Editor

The first order of business at the all day workshop of the Flagler School board was to rearrange the order of the agenda and accommodate the nearly 50 people in attendance.

Moving the Request for proposal for Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club to the top of the agenda allowed the board to address the issue of most concern to those in attendance before they continued with school business including the legislative platform and the district strategic plan.

“We have gone down different paths to see how we can resolve the issues with the swim and racquet club,” School Superintendent Jacob Oliva said. “We want to see how we can work together and come to a solution.”

Oliva, Tom Tant, Kristy Gavin and school board members met with the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet advocates at 1:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 5.

The Monday meeting was in response to miscommunication in the RFP process.  Three bids were received, but none met the bid qualification requirements.

“Part of the requirement is 501c3 status to satisfy federal IRS requirement,” Kristy Gavin, the board attorney said. “None of the bidders met the requirement.”

Gavin said the issues stemmed from communication between the school purchase director and the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet group. The group had applied for 501c3 tax exempt status and was waiting approval. 

The Belle Terre Swim and Racquet group notified the school board of an email they received from the purchase director stating the 501c3 status wasn’t necessary as long as they had an application.

A second issue arose when an agenda post to the website “stayed in the cloud so to speak,” according to Gavin.

Oliva looked upon the events as a “unique opportunity.”

“We have had the racquet club on life support for about a year,” he said.

Referring to the meeting the day before, Oliva commented on the passion of the members.

“They are willing to do whatever is needed to be done so we can keep it open,” Oliva said. “We are defining a new vision or redesign of what membership is. We had a very productive conversation.”

To save operating costs, pool hours are expected to be reduced and volunteers may be more hands-on in day to day operations.

“Volunteers are offering to do landscape and painting and return the swim club to the glory it once was,” Oliva said. “The sense I got is that they understand our priority is education and we kind of inherited this because there was no other entity in town.”

Pool memberships will continue to be sold until official action can be taken at the School Board meeting on Oct. 20.

“It didn’t go as planned but intent was to find a community group that would come together and step up to keep it open,” school board member Andy Dance said.  “The district needs to stay out of membership business; it’s not our wheel house. We will let them do the fundraising. We have got to cover costs and as long as we can meet those costs it’s a good plan.”

Board member Trevor Tucker expressed his desire to get the issue resolved.

“Are we going to make a decision on Oct. 20?” he asked. “It gets dragged out and dragged out which doesn’t help anyone.  I want us to make one decision or another.”

Tucker questioned whether there would be a plan if goals aren’t met.

“I believe that was the spirit of the conversation. We can’t sustain this. I think everybody understands that,” Oliva said. “There will be benchmarks along the way and if we are not able to hit the benchmarks that as a district, we will be forced to make a decision.”

After the session Doug Courtney, the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club advisory committee president, told his group they would not need to attend the regular school board meeting scheduled at 4 p.m.

“We got what we were hoping for,” Courtney said. “Now we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

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