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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Swimmers seek answers from board over rate hike

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By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief

Swimmers, coaches and parents from Sigma Swimmers spilled out of the room at the board of trustees meeting Oct. 19.

The program sought answers regarding a major change to their contract and looked to the board to help settle the contract dispute with NW Campus.

Last year, the program paid $44,850 to rent the NW pool for the entire year. This year, Sigma is being asked to pay $557,200 for the whole year, amounting to a more than 1,200 percent increase in rent.

“There is no pool in the country charging these rates,” said Sigma coach Andrew Ha. “The Olympic Training Center does not charge these rates. Would TCC raise tuition on students by 233 percent?”

Several TCC administrators did not respond to multiple attempts seeking comment.

Ha would be happy with returning to the previous contract price.

“We would still pay almost double what other pools charge,” he said.

Sigma Swimmers, a nonprofit program, has been swimming on NW for 10 years. The rate increase is likely to sink the program.

“It’s not sustainable,” said Tara Blair, a mom with two sons in the program. “We’ve already lost families who can’t pay the increased rates.”

Due to the contract dispute, the program could not start its season until three weeks after the normal start date, also costing them funding, she said.

To get kids in the pool, Ha, under duress, signed a temporary three-month contract for $46,900, Blair said.

“We’re paying more for three months than we were paying for the entire year,” she said. “It’s outrageous. It’s not a fair business practice.”

Blair also said Ha was lied to.

“They told him that all the other pools would be signing at these rates too,” she said. “After he signed this, Mars renewed at TCC SE for $2,600 a month, which is about a $26,000 contract for the entire year.”

NE and South also charge lower rates, Blair said.

Sigma has been told the group could go elsewhere if it didn’t like the rent increase, but there isn’t another pool in the NW area, Blair said.

“We just want a fair deal,” she said.

Ha and Blair met with officials from NW and Chancellor Eugene Giovannini and the board Oct. 5, prior to the board meeting Oct. 19. Blair said there were crickets.

“Nobody has told us anything other than [board of trustees] President [Louise] Appleman, who said that it was referred back to TCC NW,” she said.

After the group spoke during the board meeting, Appleman once again told the group that the matter was outside of the board’s control and the contract dispute was referred back to NW.

If the rent stays the same, it will sink the program, Blair said.

“It would be a real tragedy to lose the swim program,” she said.

Cameron Bell, 13, has been swimming with Sigma for the last three years. She also had the chance to address the board at the meeting.

“If we can’t swim there because we can’t pay it, I don’t know what to do,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to me that we’d have to pay more than three other locations just to swim in a pool that anybody else can use.”

Correction: In Swimmers seek answers from board over rate hike in the Oct. 25 edition, the rental rate hike amounted to a more than 1,200 percent increase. 

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