Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

The history behind Marshall pool

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Greg Peck
Thursday, November 14, 2013

Costs that the Janesville School District charges for the city's lap swim program at Marshall Middle School have led to a city budget proposal that would drop the evening half of the morning-evening swimming program. Those who enjoy the program are not happy.

In recent days, this debate splashed onto Tim Bremel's “Your Talk Show” on WCLO, where discussions apparently included a suggestion that the pool shouldn't have been built because voters rejected it in a school building referendum.

The school board's later approval of the pool soured many voters, some of whom will never forget that.

Tom Wolfe heard about the WCLO discussion and sent an email to Bremel that Wolfe also shared with me. Wolfe was a first-term member of the school board back then and shared his recollections of what transpired and how the pool wound up included in the project.

As Wolfe explained, a referendum went to voters for financing the building, an auditorium and a pool in three separate questions. Wolfe wrote that the referendum law requires voter approval of borrowing for such projects, not whether the projects themselves have merit.

Wolfe realizes it might sound like semantics, but voters didn't reject the pool but only the ability to borrow for it.

Administrators then gave the school board scenarios for how the pool might be built without borrowing for it. The discussions, Wolfe pointed out in his email, were on the agenda and open to the public, and the board voted 7-2 in favor of building a pool.

As I recall, equity was one reason the board approved the pool as part of the school construction project. After all, Edison and Franklin middle schools have pools, so it seemed reasonable that a new Marshall get one, as well.

“Sometimes facts get in the way,” Wolfe concluded in his email, “but this is how the 'turned down' pool came to be.”

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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