District, city collaborate on Waupaca youth program
By Angie Landsverk
Swimming lessons at Waupaca’s South Park are now part of the Waupaca School District’s summer school program.
“It’s the first year of it. We hope to keep this relationship going,” said Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Jenson.
Under this new partnership, the Parks and Recreation Department’s lifeguards continue to teach the swimming lessons.
The school district provides a teacher on site at Shadow Lake to oversee the program.
In addition, the district is reimbursing the city $5,000 to cover the wages of the lifeguards when they teach the lessons.
“Fiscally, it’s a wash, more or less. It evens out. We don’t make money or lose money,” said Summer School Principal Ben Rayome.
He describes the collaboration as a “win-win” for both the district and Parks and Rec.
That is because the city’s cost is being covered, and in the case of the school district, it gets to include children enrolled in swimming lessons in its summer school count.
The school district’s summer school, third Friday in September and second Friday in January counts all affect its state aid calculation, Rayome said.
“The state reimburses for some of summer school, and that does include some of the kids we have in swimming lessons,” he said. “The maximum amount per day (for summer school), which is reimbursable from the state, is 4 1/2 hours.”
This new arrangement may also be described as a win for families.
Children who attended Waupaca schools this past school year may take swimming lessons at a cost of $20 per child.
That is a $10 decrease for city and area town families from last year and a $75 decrease for some families in the outlying part of the school district.
Deciding to collaborate
Discussion about forming a partnership took place after the Parks and Recreation Department went through a strategic planning process.
That process took place about a year ago and involved Jenson working with two former parks and rec directors.
“One was from Fond du Lac and one from Sheboygan. Both rec departments were run through the school system, so they had a different perspective,” Jenson said. “So this was an idea coming from them. Swimming lessons at the beach, it was their idea to provide it as a summer school program.”
Jenson met with Carl Hayek, the school district’s business manager, to talk about the concept.
Rayome said they looked at different possibilities for such a partnership, as well as the costs for both the city and district and how to make it feasible.
They agreed to focus on the general swimming lessons and figured out how much to charge to cover the costs, he said.
Jenson said being able to swim is an important life skill, particularly in this area where there are numerous lakes and rivers.
He appreciates the fact that the district was willing to work with the city and said a lot of people would not know the program is any different from what it was in the past.
“We will keep our eyes open for other opportunities. I think there’s always opportunities for partnerships like that,” Jenson said.
A win for families
Working together resulted in the lessons being open to any students who were enrolled in the Waupaca School District this past school year, including children who were open enrolled into the district, and all at the same fee.
“They could get swim lessons here for $20,” Rayome said.
That is the fee the district and rec department arrived at after considering the costs associated with the program.
Jenson said the previous fee for swimming lessons was $30 for city residents and also for those living in the towns of Dayton, Farmington and Waupaca.
Those three towns have an agreement with the city, which allows their residents to participate in park and rec programs at the same rate as city residents.
For those not living in the city or one of those three towns, the swimming lesson fee was previously $95 per child, he said.
This year’s cross promotion and lower rate resulted in 153 children in the first session of swimming lessons, Jenson said.
That compares to 105 children a year ago, he said.
“The revenue is about the same,” Jenson said. “We are charging families less but getting reimbursed.”
The first session of lessons began Monday, June 15, and ends Thursday, July 2.
The second session, which begins Monday, July 13, and ends Thursday, July 30, is still open for registration, Jenson said.
Each of the three weeks, children attend lessons four days a week, with each lesson lasting 40 minutes.
Lessons are offered mid-morning to early afternoon and then again in the late afternoon.
The lessons do not line up completely with the summer school schedule.
The district’s first session of summer school ended on June 26.
Its next session is Aug. 3-14, and Rayome said parents may call the middle school office at 715-258-4140 to sign their children up for classes.
In addition to swimming lessons now being part of summer school, the district has another new addition to the program.
The district is also offering free breakfast and lunch to students enrolled in summer school. That takes place only during summer school itself.
In the past, some children left summer school to go to swimming lessons, Rayome said.
He said the idea of offering the lessons through summer school started with talking about what they could do to benefit both programs.
Noting they work with the same populations, he said they want to boost the numbers in both programs.
“Now, we have the ability to cross-promote,” Rayome said.
He said the district used Facebook, email blasts and the Park and Rec material to promote swimming lessons.
With one more session of summer school to go, he said they will see how the addition of swimming lessons affects the district’s summer school numbers.
“I think there may be more potential partnerships with Parks and Rec,” Rayome said. “Our mission is essentially the same. We’re looking to educate. They’re looking for ways to promote being healthy. They’re inter-related.”