STUART, FL (WFLX) - As the Martin County School Board considers cuts to make up for a near $3 million budget shortfall, board members are sparking debate over cutting public access to the Martin County High School pool.
The cut would save the district nearly $113,000, but, swimmers say, it would do more damage to their future as athletes.
Aubrey Murray just graduated from Martin Count High School as a swimmer. She won state level races, and earned a college scholarship. "I want to have a place to come back and swim during the summer," said Murray.
Now that she is not a student, that will not be possible. "I was really mad. Mad and sad and angry," said Murray.
Cutting public access would keep Murray, the Martin County Aquatics team and other club and non- profit teams from practicing there. Instead, they'll have to turn to the Sailfish Splash water park. "The hours are different over there so we won't have morning practices which got me my scholarship," Murray said.
Murray and other swimmer worry there will not be enough open time to schedule practices, or room. "It's not the same. They're going to have way too many people to fit over there, " she said.
Dozens of other swimmers voiced their concerns to the Martin County school board members on Tuesday, hoping to sway their decision.
Swimmers also argue that July is a championship and qualifying month. Changing a pool training site could affect their qualifying times.
Other budget cuts included two teacher and district employee holiday pay days, as well as two furlough days for administrators, saving nearly $1 million.
The board also voted to cut a field trip for fifth graders that cost $25,000.
They also plan to cut one game from the schedule of every sport except football.
The final budget will be discussed at the end of July.