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Lifeguard shortage forces Austin to stagger openings of city pools

Tuesday, May 28, 2019 by Jimmy Maas

With the opening of the Walnut Creek and Mabel Davis pools over the weekend, all municipal pools in Austin are up and running for the summer. The city says it’s waiting until smaller neighborhood pools are properly staffed before opening them, however.

Jodi Jay, aquatics division manager for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said lifeguard shortages are common in cities like Austin.

“For us, it’s the sheer volume of lifeguards that we need and the short period of time that we have to get them on and ready to work,” she said. “That’s why you see that staggered opening in the schedule. That allows for us to get those high schoolers and college kids that are just getting out of class trained and ready to go.”

She said the city needs more than 750 lifeguards to make it through the summer, but had only 405 ready to go over the weekend.

“So, if you’re looking for something to supplement your income, if you’re a retiree and want to get back out there and work a little, it’s a great opportunity for anybody looking for employment,” Jay said.

Lifeguard pay starts at $15 an hour and includes paid sick leave – a new benefit this summer. The city is looking to stagger the opening of neighborhood pools over the next few weeks, starting Friday. Others will follow on June 3 and June 10.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT.

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