Usage of the Clarkstown School District’s natatorium at the Felix Festa Middle School has become a point of contention between two local competing private swim clubs. At tonight’s Board of Education meeting, District Aquatics Director Chris Serra will give a presentation about the current agreement for and propose two options for updating it.
The existing agreement dates back to 2005 when the decision was made by then District Superintendent William Heebink to allocate the preferred swim time slots to the swim club with the most Clarkstown school district taxpayer residents on its roster. Over the years, the contract has been slightly modified. The two swim clubs consistently using the pool are the Condors Swim Club and the New York Sharks.
In the presentation, Serra states, “Very simply the issue on the table is how to objectively assign pool use to potentially multiple swim organizations that each possess Clarkstown residents on their rosters.”
In early July, the board approved a contract for the clubs that resulted in public protests from the Sharks. Since mid July Serra, who is also the district's director of physical education and athletics, has met with and been in contact with both swim organizations. His proposal includes three solutions, one would basically leave the contract as is and the others would modify it by allocating the 16 swimming lanes and preferred timeslots differently.
One possibility would establish a majority/minority division of lanes and times based on the number of Clarkstown members in the swim club. The other option would evenly split the lanes and preferred swimming slots if the two clubs have Clarkstown resident enrollments that do not vary by more than 50 members. According to Serra, the overseeing organization of Metropolitan Swimming does not have any regulation that would prevent the two swim clubs from using the pool at the same time.
Among Serra’s stated advantages of updating the agreement are increased pool practice times for both clubs and additional revenue for the Clarkstown district.
The second presentation by Assistant Superintendent for Business, Facilities and Fiscal Management John LaNave will focus on the town’s imposition of a one percent . In May, voters approved the district’s budget, which raised the tax levy by two percent and kept it within the state property tax cap.
The town’s surcharge raises the total increase borne by taxpayers to three percent. The town is permitted by state law to collect a surcharge. Clarkstown plans to use the proceeds of the surcharge estimated at $1.5 million to offset costs passed by Rockland County to the town, a move which town officials criticized.
Tonight’s school board meeting begins at 8 p.m.