GCSD, city working on deal for pool use in PE classes

The Glenwood Community School District is in negotiations with the City of Glenwood to use the aquatic center for high school physical education classes this fall and spring.
    The Glenwood Aquatic Center, which opened July 8 just northwest of the high school on grounds the district leases to the city, closes to the public Labor Day weekend. But high school swim classes could use the pool, weather permitting, for a two week “water safety” unit taught by the school’s physical education teachers, this fall, according to Glenwood Superintendent Devin Embray.
    What’s holding up the agreement appears to be a question of who pays for lifeguards during the physical education classes. The district’s original 28-E agreement that leased the land to the city for the aquatic center addresses the district using the facility. But the language is vague enough to bring into question who covers those lifeguard costs.
    “The thing in question is, ‘Are lifeguards part of the use?’ That’s what we’re trying to iron out now,” Embray said last week.
    Glenwood City Council person Susan Hirschman attended a meeting in July to discuss the terms of the district’s use of the aquatic center. She agreed the question of lifeguards, and who will pay for them, is the current sticking point.
    “There’s not a plan in place for this year but there’s a chance the YMCA could provide lifeguards this fall until its worked out more permanently for the spring,” Hirschman said. “The contract we have with the school, there’s a bit of a gray area. We need to talk about it more. We think it’s a shared expense but I can’t give a legal opinion.”
Hirschman said she’s optimistic the arrangement can be worked out for use this fall but she was not aware of any scheduled meeting to further discuss the issue.
    The school’s PE instructors are certified to teach water safety but a lifeguard is required to be on duty while the pool is in use.
    “You can teach water safety without having water,” Embray said last week. “We just wanted to make it more of a real experience for them (students) and once school started, having that pool availabile for a few weeks is a prime opportunity. Our instructors would instruct it. We don’t think they’ll need additional training for it. We’re just waiting on clarification on how many lifeguards we’ll need and who’ll be providing them.”
    The plan, Embray said, is to have each of the school’s PE classes have a one to two-week water safety unit in the fall and then again in the spring semesters.
    “A lot of how long we go will be dependent on weather,” Embray said. “There’s pool heaters but we want to make sure we’re not throwing kids into 50 degrees water.”
    The water safety classes will consist of instruction in basic swim strokes, water safety and water survival lessons as well as “free swim” for students.
    Embray was not aware of the district ever having used either Glenwood’s former public pool, which closed a decade ago, or the YMCA indoor pool for a physical education water safety unit.
    With the start of school last week, the aquatic center is no longer open to the public Monday through Friday but has weekend hours from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. through Labor Day. 
    Embray is optimistic the deal can get ironed out this fall but even if its not worked out in time to utilize the pool this year, a spring semester swimming unit for PE classes is planned.
    “We’re hoping to get another meeting here soon and we can take advantage of it this fall,” Embray said.

The Opinion-Tribune

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