I’ve long been an advocate for making neighborhood pools as available for Tucsonans, particularly young people, as possible.
The trouble has always been funding. It took a long time for our budget to recover from the Great Recession, and one of the ways we saved money was by not opening pools and keeping limited schedules for the ones we opened.
I’ve said this before and it needs to be said again: pools are, yes, recreation, but are also a necessity in our hot summers. Many of us don’t live in houses with swimming pools and families that can’t afford a private pool should be able to have a close by pool available.
Many of my colleagues on the council agree and we finally got to a point, budget-wise, where we could open more pools. We’ve run into a new problem though: a lack of lifeguards to staff the pools.
Part of this is the way that our post-pandemic economy has been working. Even traditional low-paying jobs are offering $16-18 an hour, and many teenagers looking for summer work have better paying options.
Still, many of the young people that apply for this work are too young to apply for some of those jobs, but they are facing long waits and paperwork to get the job. One of my staff has a teenager at home who applied and has waited two weeks to hear. That’s a long time for someone to wait to hear about a summer job.
It may seem like a minor issue, but it means we can’t fill the jobs that will get our pools open this summer.
We have a staffing issue overall with the city, and seeing this, I really have to wonder if our application process is keeping us from filling slots.
If you know a young person who is having trouble with the registration process, please give my office a call (520 791-4687) or come in during regular business hours at 7575 E. Speedway and my staff can help. We want as many of our young people to have the opportunity to serve as possible.