A $23 million expenditure for a new pool and auditorium at Central High School was unamiously approved Monday night by the Davenport Community School Board.

The board was split, however, on extras that would tack on more than $3.8 million to the original budget.

After a discussion that lasted about two hours, board members ultimately approved the extra items recommended by a committee made up of architects, district and school staff and teachers.

The district plans to seek bids on the project between March and May and is slated to break ground by May 5.

The project will be funded by local sales tax money.

Central's auditorium and pool are decades old and no longer fit the needs of staff and students.

Much of Monday's board discussion centered around a recommendation to build a 25-yard, eight-lane stretch pool that will include a warm-up/cool-down area for competitive swimmers.

The addition of the warm-up/cool-down area, estimated to cost nearly $1.181 million, was first introduced at a committee-of-the-whole meeting earlier this month.

Board member Nikki DeFauw and board president Ralph Johanson voted no on the recommendation.

Johanson said he could not justify spending such a large sum of money on the additional area that will be used by only a small, select population within the district. 

 He also said he could not find any research or any rules from the Iowa High School Athletic Association that says that a warm-up/cool-down area is neccessary for competitive swimmers.

"I think that if this project had been represented as something that's usable for all students, not really just for competitive swimmers ... I'd be more likely to support that," he said.

Board members Bill Sherwood, Rich Clewell, Patt Zamora and Ken Krumwiede threw their support behind the entire package.

Clewell noted that this is the biggest investment made at any school in the Davenport district since lawmakers passed legislation that would provide local sales tax money for facilities.

Central, he said, is the "poster child for local sales tax."

"(Central) is a school that needs it and I think this is an investment in our future," he said.

Board member Larry Roberson, who ultimately voted in favor of the addition, said he was disappointed that the initial package of the pool didn't include a warm-up/cool-down area and that the project exceeded the $23 million budget.

Central principal Scott McKissick said the pool and auditorium are a "long-time coming" and will give the high school a competitive edge.

"I think it's a great opportunity for the kids," he said. "I can't imagine them not being excited."

The board also approved bumping up auditorium seating from 800 to 900 for $283,313 and replacing the tennis courts and adding more parking at the Brady Street Complex for $900,000.

Also Monday, the board approved the compensation packages for non-bargaining administrative and non-administrative employees.

The board also approved plans for a sprinkler system project at Lincoln Elementary School at an estimated cost of $240,000. The district rents out space in the now-closed school to Head Start and other organizations.

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