Friday, May 30, 2014

More Lifeguards needed for Austin pools

We mentioned on an earlier post that the City of Austin needs more lifeguards for its summer pool hours.  More guards are still needed, according to this article in today's Austin American-Statesman.  It's good work and pays well.  Check out today's job fair!

Austin throws job fair with free pizza to lure more lifeguards

By Julie Chang - American-Statesman Staff
As Austin city workers prepare for expanded public pool hours this summer, an odd sort of shortage has emerged: They just can’t find enough teenagers who want to wear a bathing suit to work.
This year, the parks department needs more summer lifeguards than ever — up to 750 — after the city extended hours and days that city pools will open. It has filled half of those spots.
Friday, city officials are hosting a job fair with free pizza, drinks and dessert in the hopes they can find some more.
“The number of lifeguards that we hire is a large number. It’s a very difficult thing to do every year, but this year with the extended hours and more lifeguards, it’s even more challenging,” said aquatic program manager Jodi Jay.
Most pools will open on June 6, which is earlier than usual and just a day after the last day of school for the Austin district. The department, which heavily relies on students for lifeguards, blames that time crunch for the shortage.
Jay said she is optimistic that they will fill the spots, and said she doesn’t anticipate hours or days of operations to be affected. Instead, the department could close a diving area or a baby wading pool until properly trained lifeguards are available.
Those amenities are essential for Extend-a-Care during its summer program. About 700 children in Extend-a-Care aged three to 12 go to city pools twice a week, and the agency’s state license requires it to go to only city-run pools.
“By taking that away, we’re taking away access to outdoor water time for our preschoolers. Secondly, with diving … our oldest kids, that’s definitely what they enjoy doing,” operations director Jaime Garcia said. “Being physically active and making sure that they’re engaged during the summer is critical.”
She added that lifeguards provide an extra set of eyes from an elevated viewpoint.
City Council approved adding $851, 000 to this year’s parks department budget to expand hours at some city pools, hire two maintenance workers to keep up with repairs (the average age of Austin’s 50 aquatics facilities is 44 years old) and bump up lifeguard pay to $10.75 for those ages 17 and up to be competitive with privately run pools.
Pools are opening from four to 11 days earlier than last year. Most of them close on Aug. 24. Most pools will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekends.
“If you don’t have enough lifeguards, you wind up with kids who can’t take part in a fun part of summer,” said Charles Mead with the Capitol Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
New city lifeguards must undergo 40 hours of training to become American Red Cross certified. Returning lifeguards must undergo 18 hours of training to be re-certified. They are not required to work full-time, but the department offers incentives with hopes to recruit and retain them throughout the summer.
A lifeguard qualifies for a chance to win $500 if he or she commits to working an average of 15 hours a week until the pool season ends.
Friday’s job fair will run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the aquatic office, 400 Deep Eddy Ave.

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