For the second summer in a row, Manteca Unified tax dollars are funding a six-week open swimming pool program for Stockton’s Weston Ranch neighborhood kids to the tune of $15,000.
The school district does not fund similar programs anywhere else in the district.
District staff said they contacted the cities of Lathrop and Manteca to see if they were interested in operating a six-week open pool program. Lathrop would have been allowed to use Lathrop High’s pool while Manteca could have added Sierra High, Manteca High or East Union High — or possibly all three — to their existing open pool program operated at Lincoln Park. Manteca Parks and Recreation also offers swim lessons at Lincoln Pool and the Manteca High pool.
The board never asked staff during their last meeting when they approved spending $15,000 of school money on the Weston Ranch swimming program whether they made the same offer of providing $15,000 to either Lathrop or Manteca. Actually if the board was shooting for parity — a recent theme they advanced for the district’s high schools regarding stadium upgrades — the district would have logically offered significantly more money to Manteca given it has almost six times the population base of Weston Ranch if the offer to use the high school pools elsewhere involved the expenditure of district money as well. The City of Manteca currently is charged fees for using the Manteca High pool.
City officials noted the time frame the offer was made in wasn’t favorable for adding or expanding swim programs. That’s because programming and staffing is done months in advance.
Also, the district opted to ask the cities in Manteca and Lathrop whether they were interested and not community-based non-profits as they did in Weston Ranch.
The Weston Ranch open pool program is run by the Stockton Kids Club and not the City of Stockton.
District staff brought up safety concerns based on lifeguard staffing in relation to the number of children in the pool. That issue is being addressed by coming up with a cap on children allowed in the pool if the Stockton Kids Club isn’t able to provide additional lifeguards.
During the board debate when several trustees questioned the Weston Ranch expenditure, Sam Fant commented that the “district wastes” more money than $15,000 in other ways in his defense of Manteca Unified funding the open swim for the Weston Ranch community.