Simplified: The lifeguards are back in town. After a summer with fewer pools open, the city's Parks and Recreation department is back on track with seasonal hiring and expects to be fully staffed come June.
Why it matters
- It was about this time last year that the city's parks department was scrambling to find enough lifeguards to open pools.
- Now, a year later, staffing is far less of a challenge, said Jean Pearson, recreation programs coordinator. That means – if everyone hire passes their certification – pools are set to open June 3.
- Pearson said she's seen more people returning than did in 2021, and she also attributes the hiring increase to higher wages. Lifeguards now make $16 per hour, compared to about $13 per hour last year.
"I'm just kinda doing a happy dance," Pearson said.
What's different this year?
A few things.
First, the pay. Lifeguards now make $16 per hour, compared to $13 per hour last year.
- That $13 rate last year was higher than the initial pay offered. At the start of recruitment season last year, the pay was $11.50 per hour.
- Then, hiring proved difficult – largely because after a year of no open pools (2020), there wasn't a pool of people returning to lifeguard jobs, and the city had to start from scratch.
- That's when the parks department came to the city asking for more money to help recruit. The City Council said yes, and lifeguard pay was raised by $2 per hour.
- Now, this year, the pay increased again to $16 per hour, Pearson said.
Next, the hours. Pearson said it's been a trend for awhile, but more lifeguards are opting for part-time over full-time hours.
Finally, the end result. All pools – including McKennan Park and Frank Olsen Park, which were closed last summer – will be open this year.
What happens next?
Many of the hired lifeguards still need certification, and it's possible some will drop off in that process, Pearson said.
- But she's confident she'll be able to get to the staff she needs by the time pools open.
The first day to swim will be June 3, and Pearson hopes the season will last until Sept. 4.