School Board considers creating citizen task force for Belle Terre Swim & Racquet Club

The district has used citizen committees in the past and will consider its options during a future workshop.

School Board member Cheryl Massaro
School Board member Cheryl Massaro
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Running a community gym and pool isn’t quite the school district’s core mission. Still, it has one — the Belle Terre Swim & Racquet Club — and has found itself in a quandary as the aging facility, beloved by its users, threatens repair costs that could draw money away from the district’s K-12 responsibilities.

School Board member Cheryl Massaro visited the club recently to take a look at the facility. 

“I just had a wonderful conversation with the staff there, and it’s 50 degrees out and there’s people wanting to swim,” she said at a Feb. 2 School Board workshop. “Needless to say, we’ve got to get some kind of action plan set aside.”

She added, “My recommendation for that is … that we get a task force put together, including the community and the key players.”

The district has estimated that the facility is facing a $500,000 shortfall and potentially $2 million in repairs, and School Board members have floated the possibility of seeking partnerships with the Palm Coast city government or Flagler County government to support it.

Five years ago, the last time the club threatened to become too expensive for the district to maintain, members joined together to form a community group called the Belle Terre Swim & Racquet Club Advisory Committee and raised memberships and money — including a donation from the county government — to keep the district from closing it to the public. 

Massaro noted that the district will have to earn the broader community's support to renew the half-penny sales tax in 2022. 

"If we can bring people together now and show them that ... we want to solve some of the issues of our district and this community as a team, I think we’ll have a much better shot of getting support in 2022," she said. 

Board member Colleen Conklin was interested in the idea of a task force, and board Chairman Trevor Tucker suggested that district staff gather some information on the procedures used for forming other citizen task forces and bring proposals to the School Board at a future workshop. 

The district has used citizen task forces and committees in the past, including for its Graduate 100 initiative to increase graduation rates and for a search committee that narrowed down candidates for the position of district superintendent before current Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt's hiring.

Board member Jill Woolbright noted that there are many non-school-based groups that use the pool, and asked how much revenue those uses bring in. Mittelstadt said district staff will present those details at the upcoming workshop.


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