School Board’s agreement on Y pool will save lives

School Board’s agreement on Y pool will save lives

“It’s about water safety for kids for the next 25 years!”

IMG_1721At yesterday’s school board meeting the School Board discussed our future capital needs. I would like to thank the many members of the public who attended and gave such positive support of our schools and the school board’s directions.  At the meeting it was also mentioned that some in the community have a misunderstanding about the Citrus County School Board’s agreement with the YMCA of Citrus County’s in regards to its new swimming pool. I would like to clear up that misunderstanding now.

Last year the Citrus County School Board approved a twenty-five year agreement for use of the Y’s pool facility for a total cost of $325,000 to the School Board.  There are two parts to the 25 year agreement. First, the YMCA agreed to take over the School Board’s elementary schools’ water safety swim program. Second, the school district would have use of the facility during the fall high school swim season for one of their high schools and for high school swim meets.

The water safety program has been a vital program that the School Board has offered in our elementary schools. The Florida Heath Department states,  “Florida had the highest unintentional drowning rate in the nation for the 1–4 year old age group with a drowning rate of 7.54 per 100,000 population. Florida had the second highest drowning rate in the nation for the 1–14 year old age group”. The Florida Department of Children & Families latest data shows that Children Drowning is the number one known cause of death in children in Florida.  Unfortunately during tough budget times the School Board has had to consider suspending this critical program.  Partnering with the Y meant our students would be assured of this program for the next 25 years.  In addition, it meant that with this agreement the district (and taxpayer) would save the approximately $750,000 this water safety swim program would cost to fund over the next 25 years.  This is a net savings of approximately $425,000 to our general fund.

High school swim teams in Citrus county have struggled to find facilities and practice time for their swimmers. While public high schools in Florida typically include facilities for sports like football, baseball/softball, basketball, and volleyball, they usually do not include pools for swim teams on campus.  School districts often work with their local Parks and Recreation, YMCAs, and community club houses to use their pools for practices and/or meets.  These arrangements are beneficial to the school swim teams and to the taxpayers as the schools now get the use of a facility without the high cost of developing and maintaining them. Currently Citrus High School uses the Whispering Pines Pools in Inverness.  Crystal River and Lecanto High Schools have been sharing the Bicentennial Pool in Crystal River.  This means that those two schools have had to share a small six lane pool for both practices and meets.  Beginning in the fall of 2016 Lecanto High School will use the YMCA pool as their daily practice pool.

It was implied at yesterday’s meetings that this decision to partner with the YMCA was made to personally benefit my own children.  I want to make it clear that my children are part of a year round club swim team that practices and will continue to practice out of the Bicentennial Pool in Crystal River and that this swim team competes at meets around the state of Florida.  My son, who is a rising Senior at Crystal River High School, also swims for the CRHS swim team that also practices and will continue to practice out of the Bicentennial Pool in Crystal River.  My wife, children and myself are not members of the YMCA.

I am and will continue to be a person who supports water safety and competitive swimming in Citrus County and I am supportive of ANYONE who is interested in furthering that.   I strongly believe that age group swimming builds a strong foundation for a lifetime of good physical and mental health by teaching time management, self-discipline, and healthy fitness habits.  I also believe that this agreement by the CCSB and the YMCA was a wise decision for taxpayers and more importantly, it was right for kids.

If anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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