Port swim lessons a victim of staff crunch

City cancels long-running program for season because of fewer, busier employees
Ozaukee Press staff

A staffing shortage has led the Port Washington Parks and Recreation Department to cancel swimming lessons for the remainder of the summer season, Recreation Director Kiley Scherer said Monday.

“It’s a bummer,” Scherer said. “It was a very hard decision. I greatly value swim lessons, especially living next to Lake Michigan.”

The department was able to hold its first session of lessons this summer, but last week announced it was canceling the second and third sessions of classes.

“We’re limited with our staff this season,” Scherer said, noting she has five fewer guards than desired.

Many of those staff members hold multiple jobs, she said, limiting their availability at the pool, and it got to the point where she couldn’t ensure adequate coverage.

“They were getting burned at both ends,” she said. “And I wasn’t expecting to have all these workers with limited availability.”

In order to also provide open swim times for the community and other events at the pool, Scherer said, she had to cancel the lessons.

“I had to look at everything and see where it made the most sense,” she said. “It was disheartening.”

Several of the class sessions for the remainder of the summer were filled, she said, while others had few if any students.

“I think people want to make sure their kids learn to swim, and we do, too,” she said.”I understand how frustrating this is.”

Swimming lessons are vital, Scherer said, especially given the fact the city is on the shore of Lake Michigan.

“It’s hard for me to say we canceled swim lessons. It’s kind of nightmare-ish,” she said.

“I’m happy we got to open our pool for summer, something other pools couldn’t do, and we haven’t had to limit our hours.”

Scherer said that she is working on a plan to try and get more people certified as lifeguards and instructors for next year so she doesn’t run into this situation again.

“We’re trying to get ahead of it. We have to figure out what we can and cannot do feasibly,” she said. “We’ve learned what doesn’t work. We have to adjust and make it work in the future.”


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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