Update, Wednesday April 7, 10:30 a.m.: Recreation Program Coordinator Jean Pearson said after Mayor TenHaken's Facebook post, she saw 17 lifeguard applications. She also shared that from January to March, the city sold 415 pool passes, compared to 295 during that same time frame in 2019.

Earlier story:

Simplified: Sioux Falls pools are about 70 lifeguards short, parks officials say. They've only got about a month to find those people, or it's possible not all pools will be able to open to full capacity this summer.

Why it matters

  • It's not just lifeguards. About 85 seasonal maintenance positions within the parks and recreation department are also unfilled, Parks Operations Manager Kelby Mieras said.
  • The shortage of seasonal workers is due, in part, to the coronavirus pandemic. With many outdoor parks facilities – including pools – closed last year, there weren't as many people hired. That means fewer people to draw from and hire back for another year.
  • There's a pent-up demand for outdoor pools and strong season pass sales, Mieras said, especially after the last year. But without lifeguards, it's possible those pools won't all be able to open.
"It's definitely a very sincere cry for people to come and apply for positions with us," Mieras said.

Tell me more

Mayor Paul TenHaken – with the help of his daughter, Nora – took to Facebook over the weekend to urge people to apply for lifeguard positions.

"We need lifeguards, bad. So bad, actually, that we are somewhat in a little bit of jeopardy of getting these pools open because we do not have enough staff," TenHaken said in the video.

Lifeguard positions start at $11.50 per hour, plus a $100 hiring bonus, which Mieras said has been in place even before the staffing shortages this year. Those 15 and older may apply.

Maintenance positions are for those 18 and older at 40 hours per week at a rate of approximately $10 per hour.

What happens next?

Pools are set to open May 28, which means lifeguards would need to be in training by about May 17, Mieras said.

Those interested in applying can do so here.