Last March, local people welcomed the re-opening of Panther Valley High School's swimming pool, which had been closed to cut costs. The pool had been opened thanks to a local business, Water Wellness, which offered a variety of therapeutic aquatic activities.
But on Dec. 26, school Superintendent Rosemary Porembo said Wednesday, the pool had once again closed.
On Thursday, Water Wellness co-owner Maria Zupko did not immediately return an email request for an interview. A telephone call to her home revealed the number has been disconnected.
The matter may surface at a school board Budget and Finance Committee meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. today.
Porembo said she hopes the contract could be reworked to enable Water Wellness to continue.
The school board in June, 2011, had opted to close the pool as it was crafting its 2011-12 budget, in light of a $1.3 million cutback in state funding. The closing was just one of many cutbacks, which also included cross country and golf as well as the district's swim teams.
At an Oct. 13, 2011 public meeting, the board agreed to lease the pool to Maria Zupko and Nicole Bailey of New Ringgold, doing business as Water Wellness Inc. the one-year contract would automatically be renewed, business manager Kenneth Marx Jr. said at the time. He said the $69,500 was not compensation, but rather reimbursement for operating expenses.
The pool opened in January 2012, with Water Wellness at the helm, and served an average of 50-60 people a week, Zupko said in March.
The swimming pool has had a stormy history.
The 3,375-square-foot pool, built in 1972, was closed in 1982 after it began springing leaks. It turned out the problem was with a faulty valve. In 2000 18 years and $180,000 in school district, state and private funding later the pool was reopened, only to be closed again in 2011.
Porembo on Wednesday said the school board needs to have all the facts before addressing the matter in a way that would be best for the district's residents and taxpayers.