ROELAND PARK, Kan. — A shortage of lifeguards could force the City of Roeland Park to scale back pool hours this summer.
Parks and Recreation Superintendent Tony Nichols said the city needs to hire at least an additional 20 lifeguards to insure staff can fully operate the Aquatic Center.
“At our current staff levels it would have to be a modified schedule. It would be maybe limiting the hours per day or limiting the days per week,” Nichols said. “We’re still evaluating that based on the applicants that come in. Our primary focus would be open swim hours, we would probably have to cut a lot of our morning programming and things like that.”
City crews recently completed a $1.6 million Capital Improvement Project at the Aquatic Center. The renovation includes new slides, a children’s splash pad area and new shade coverings throughout the facility. Without adequate staffing, access to some of the new amenities may be limited.
Nichols said after COVID-19 forced the city to close the Aquatic Center for the 2020 season, recruiting new employees has been difficult.
“I think one of the things that might make it a little difficult is not being open last year. Your current staff is your best recruitment tool for bringing in new people,” Nichols said. “Without having a season last year, we lost some of that staff and we lost the opportunity to recruit new staff and replenish those ranks.”
The cost of lifeguard training and certification is paid for by the city. Nichols said the city wants to hire strong swimmers over 15 years old.
Nichols said after completing the hiring process, candidates will be asked to complete a swim test, complete a water trending test and retrieve an object from the bottom of the deepest end of the pool.
“There is a lifeguard certification course that we would put you through that would help train you and teach you all the other relevant skills you need for that position,” Nichols said.
Right now lifeguard positions pay roughly $10 per hour, but Nichols said the city may soon increase the base pay scale to attract potential employees.
“This Monday night our city council is going to be considering additional options to incentivize applicants whether that’s increasing the starting salary and potential other recruitment bonuses,” Nichols said.
You can find more information on job opportunities at the Roeland Park Aquatic Center here.