Katy ISD

Katy ISD H.S. No. 10 natatorium up for vote

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 4/18/21

Katy ISD voters will decide May 1 whether to pay for a nearly $14 million natatorium at the district’s 10th high school.

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Katy ISD

Katy ISD H.S. No. 10 natatorium up for vote


Katy ISD voters will decide May 1 whether to pay for a nearly $14 million natatorium at the district’s 10th high school.

The natatorium is listed as Proposition C and one of four bond items the Katy Independent School District has up for voter approval.

Proposition A, at nearly $591 million, seeks approval to build the 10th high school, several lower-level schools, buy land, renovate current facilities and more. The natatorium would have previously been included in the total cost of the new school, but state law passed in 2019 requires school districts to list “special projects” as separate items in a bond election. Things like natatoriums fall into the “special projects” category.

Proposition C seeks $13,842,610 to build an on-site natatorium for the district’s newest high school, which will be located at the intersection of Longenbaugh at Katy Hockley Road. If approved by voters, the entire 2021 bond package will produce no change to the tax rate for Katy ISD taxpayers, although the length of time taxpayers pay on existing and new school district debt will be extended because the outstanding total has increased.

If voted down, the 10th high school would be the only one to not have a campus natatorium.

“That would create a bunch of problems,” said Taylor swimming coach Matt Apple, who has coached 17 years in Katy ISD. “One, what do you do for varsity in the mornings? When would they practice? Four (a.m.) in the morning before the host school practices? And if they come after school, well, if you want to have a competitive swim team, the whole reason varsity practices in the morning is because club practice is in the afternoon. And then it becomes a choice where kids choose club or high school. That’s a precedent we’ve tried to fight in Katy.”


Jordan High, which opened as the district’s ninth high school in August 2020, was successful in swimming in its inaugural year of competition. Coach Scott Slay’s girls finished third at the district meet and sent a swimmer to state in freshman Kaeli White, who competed in the 500 freestyle.

Before coming to Jordan, Slay coached at Richmond Foster, Tomball, Mayde Creek and his alma mater Baytown Sterling. The year before Slay arrived at Foster, there was an incident when a swimmer got into a fatal car accident on their way to swimming practice.

Now all high schools in Lamar Consolidated ISD, which used to have just a district pool, have their own natatoriums.

“The campus pool is a game-changer,” Slay said. “I liked the district pool, but the campus pool is very simple, and it cuts down on drive time. We had issues with transportation when we were at the district pool. It was a problem daily with the athletes. Kids driving to the pool was a bit scary.”

For the 2020-2021 school year at Katy ISD, 305 boys and 314 girls participated in swimming. In 2019, Katy ISD produced seven individual All-American swimmers, and two All-American relay teams. In 2020, the district had five individual All-American swimmers, and five All-American relay teams.

At the majority of the schools, most of the seniors qualify for academic All-American status. At Taylor, for instance, four of the top 20 kids academically this school year are swimmers. The No. 1 student academically in the Class of 2022 is a swimmer.

Jordan High, the district’s biggest pool in regard to seating capacity, hosted the District 19-6A and 19-5A meets this season.

“To me, the only reason I think people would vote this down is they think it costs money,” Apple said. “But the bond says there will be no tax increase. Some people might think sports take too much money in the district. But it’s separate things. The money used for sports is not money used for the classroom. If you have money set to be used for a natatorium or any sports facility, it’s not like that money can be funneled elsewhere.”

Apple is correct. Katy ISD spokesperson Maria DiPetta said if Proposition C doesn’t pass, that $13.8 million is not reallocated. The district would have to include it in the next bond or try to find money elsewhere to make it happen.


Another nuance to Proposition C is that water polo is coming to Texas as a high school sport in the fall of 2022.

Katy ISD is in the early planning stages of offering water polo after it was approved as a UIL sport in 2019. In October 2020, the UIL voted to delay the start of water polo at least a year from its initial 2021 start date because of COVID-19.

The Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association Water Polo board stated on its website it has been assured that the sport will start in the fall of 2022.

Slay swam and played water polo at Baytown Sterling. He said water polo was a significant financial resource for kids when he was at Foster.

During his five years in Richmond, more than $1 million in academic scholarships were brought in from just the Foster water polo program, Slay said, and the typical water polo player has a swimming background.

“For both sports, kids seem to thrive academically,” Slay said. “They go hand in hand.”

Slay said having the extra campus pool as a new sport is introduced is necessary. There will be a need for all the pools and the space that goes along with it.

The district’s pools are not only used for high school athletics purposes. People can use the pools for events, and Slay said rentals for the Jordan High pool are filled up all the time. The pools are used for club teams and lifeguard training. Slay foresees club water polo being added in the area soon.

“It’s something that’s needed,” Slay said of a natatorium at the 10th high school. “Every athletic facility they can get for these parents and these kids is big. No one wants to have to pick up their kid somewhere other than where they dropped them off that morning.”

Early voting begins April 19 and runs through April 27.

Katy ISD, 2021 bond, Proposition C, natatorium, high school No. 10, Katy, Texas, district