As maintenance costs of Pearland and Pearland ISD’s natatorium rise, the district has sought a new agreement with the city.

On April 11, PISD affirmed its support of a $3.5 million buyout from its interlocal agreement with the city of Pearland for use of the city’s natatorium at the Recreation Center & Natatorium.

In 2007, the city and PISD entered into a 25-year agreement to construct and use the city’s natatorium, splitting the cost. The agreement required PISD to pay for half of all maintenance costs that exceed $15,000.

“The original agreement, in my opinion, is terrible,” PISD President Sean Murphy said. “The intent of the agreement was wonderful, but when you read this from a legal standpoint, it’s very unclear what our side of the fence is responsible for, not just the city side.”

The facility scheduled repairs that cost $7 million, which would require the school district to pay half, or $3.5 million, per the agreement. Instead, PISD proposed buying out of the agreement for the same cost.

Superintendent Larry Berger said he spoke with interim City Manager Trent Epperson, and the city is in agreement with PISD pursuing the buyout.

The buyout would end the interlocal agreement, moving PISD to a lease agreement of a $122,000 annual fee for three years, after which PISD could reup. The city requested an automatic renewal with a one-year notification should PISD seek to end the agreement. PISD requested the new agreement maintain all the usage privileges the district has in the current agreement, Berger added.

“The reason I support and want to support some type of buyout of this agreement is because it actually gets us out of that written agreement in which we were responsible for 50% of the maintenance cost that comes in,” Murphy said.

PISD is awaiting the details of the new lease agreement, after which the board will vote to officially move forward with the buyout at the next meeting May 16.