Response to pool closing

Mailbag: Letter to the editor


Britni Petitt / Clarion

Pool to be closing soon due to lack of use. New athletic facility to replace pool.

Dr. Howard J. Spearman, Vice President of Student Affairs

Dealing with budget fluctuations, whether down or up, is never easy, but guidance can be found in the mission and values of the institution. Per our mission, Madison College provides open access to quality higher education that fosters lifelong learning and success within our communities. Our vision is to provide open access to quality higher education that fosters lifelong learning and success within our communities. Madison College’s key values are excellence, respect, commitment to students and diverse communities, and making higher education available to all.

The original Madison College Facilities Master Plan (FMP) published in 2009 and updated in June 2010 led to a referendum that provided funding for state-of-the-art classes, labs, and other student spaces. Subsequently, the 2018 FMP primary purpose was to align space use with the changing needs of programs. One of the many recommendations in the FMP was to renovate the Truax Fitness Center, locker rooms and office space in that area. In June of 2019, representatives from the Athletics/Fitness Center presented space recommendations, which were approved by the Board of Trustees.

When contemplating whether or not to close a facility, we must also consider that Madison College enrollment has been declining for the past 10 years. As a result, there has been a decline in Madison College’s pool student participation and pool course offerings. In 2015, 724 students participated in the fitness center courses and  92 students participated in the pool courses. That is a total of 816 students with pool course participants accounting for 11 percent of the headcount. Compared to 2019, students enrolled in pool courses accounted for 5 percent of the 639 students participating in either pool or fitness center courses.

Besides headcount, academic credits are indicators of institutional viability. Credits are measured through Full Time Equivalency (FTE) students. Within the last five years (2015-2019), the pool accounted for 8.7 FTE compared to the fitness center, which accounted for 152 FTE. That is a 95 percent to 5 percent difference in FTE favoring use of the fitness center.

Another predictive indicator of future demand is the enrollment forecast. Based on a three-year forecast, Madison College’s office of Institutional Effectiveness projects a 26.5 FTE average for students taking fitness center courses versus 1.1 FTE average for students taking pool courses. In regards to headcount, projections suggest a 600 to 31 student participation in favor of the fitness center.

As fiscally responsible stewards of taxpayers’ money, we need to take a hard look at ways to receive the best return on our limited resources, while providing quality student learning and engagement on campus. By removing the pool, Madison College is able to accomplish the following to meet student interests:

  • Maintain fiscal responsibility.
  • Increase fitness center and instructional space to meet demand.
  • Expand locker rooms and create inclusive and gender-neutral changing spaces.
  • Adhere to ADA requirements.
  • Provide adequate space for students participating in athletics.