lajoyaaquatic Gignac Architects
The La Joya ISD Sports & Learning Complex includes the state's first school-owned water park.

Texas district is the first in the state to open a school-owned water park

La Joya district's $20 million Sports and Learning Complex also has a natatorium, planetarium and golf course.

The La Joya (Texas) Independent School District has opened a $20 million Sports and Learning Complex, which includes the first school-owned water park in the state. 

KGBT-TV reports that the 90,000-square-foot water park will be used not only by La Joya students, but also by the entire Rio Grande Valley.

"It's very exciting," says La Joya Superintendent Alda Benavides. "I think it's a dream come true and it will provide a lot of opportunities for kids. "Sometimes, this could be the only water park these kids get to see and there's no price for that." 

The waterpark will open to the public beginning in summer 2018.

The complex also will house an indoor natatorium, tennis courts, golf course, planetarium, and a learning center. The 21,993-square-foot natatorium will host swimming and diving meets. The district's head diving coach, Mark Bullard, says the facility is badly  needed.

"There were some problems with the city pool," Bullard said. "We were using and we didn't have our own, so we were basically homeless for a short period of time. When you think about getting these kids on a bus—they have to change clothes for practice—you're looking at a commute time of about 20 minutes each way."

The natatorium will have an occupancy of up to 300 people, and the water park will house more than 1,200.

The planetarium will enable students to experience full-dome educational lessons that tie in with classroom lessons. It will be able to hold 50 people and is equipped with desktop computers, interactive monitors and an 86-inch screen that will provide live streaming via webcams, such as communicating with the NASA International Space Station. The facility also will open to the public after student field trips, and before closing time.

The golf course also is a public facility that La Joya student athletes use for practice, tournaments, and summer camps.

"We are the only school district who owns their own golf course in the state,” says Daniel Garza, facilities executive director for the La Joya district. “Our district had a vision to move forward with a place where students could get into lifelong sports and have alternate options alongside the traditional sports that are available...and we are headed in that direction with this undertaking.”

The architect is Gignac Architects.

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