The pool at Weston Ranch High School will once again be open to the community during the hot Central Valley summer.
On Tuesday night, the Manteca Unified Board of Education voted unanimously to allow the YMCA of San Joaquin County to take over the summer swimming program at Weston Ranch High School after the district terminated the memorandum of understanding with the embattled Stockton Kids Club earlier this year.
The $20,000 contract, which is being furnished by the City of Stockton and executed by the YMCA, will cover the majority of the known costs of operating the pool and the necessary supervision that will allow all of the residents of the South Stockton community to once again have some place to go when the mercury creeps past 100 degrees.
According to Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer, the district will provide certain in-kind donations – things like the chemicals required to operate a pool during the summer – and will take steps this year to track exactly how much those in-kind contributions end up totaling. Part of how this will be done, Messer said, is to calculate the costs of maintaining a pool that won’t get use this summer so that future negotiations will allow for the district to seek compensation.
But not everybody was thrilled with the prospect of turning the keys over right out of the gate.
Tamara Basepayne, the swim coach at Weston Ranch, said that there are maintenance and upkeep issues already at the facility – a cracked pool deck, for instance – and community use will only add to that problem and take away from the experience that her students get as participating members of the program.
Basepayne said that while she’s excited about promoting swimming in Weston Ranch, which will ultimately in time positively impact the program that she’s running, the board should take a closer look at the effects of the community swimming program on existing infrastructure before approving the request.
But for Eric Duncan, who represents Weston Ranch on the board, the proposal is the first in what he hopes are a series of steps in providing activities for Weston Ranch students where none currently exist. Duncan said that he has long been a proponent of getting the City of Stockton to foot the bill for the recreational opportunities of its residents, but reinforced the idea that without supervision and opportunities, the work being done in the classroom could be all for not.
“We say that we support our teachers, but without our students we don’t have anything as a district,” Duncan said. “If we don’t do anything those teachers that come back at the end of the summer will find that some of their students aren’t there anymore, and we need to do what we can do to prevent that from happening.”
Last year the YMCA of San Joaquin County operated three pools within the City of Stockton – Kennedy, Lincoln High School and Oak Park – while training over 50 lifeguards and instructed more than 4,000 people to swim.
The $20,000 will be paid for the season that is expected to run from July 1 through August 15, although the pool will likely open sooner now that the item has received board approval.
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