A lifeguard shortage is forcing Boulder Parks and Recreation to reduce weekday swim times.
“The ongoing labor shortage has impacted us in Boulder and has led to some tough choices,” Parks and Recreation Director Ali Rhodes stated in a city news release. “Specifically, a lack of lifeguards means we have to reduce pool hours. The community has told us to prioritize youth and older adults, and the December schedule tries to balance access for all with limited staff.”
Lap lanes at the East Boulder Community Center will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Lap lanes at the North Boulder Recreation Center will be open Tuesday and Thursday from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The lap pool at the South Boulder Recreation Center is open for two lanes of swimming from 6 to 7 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday and for six lanes of swimming from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Leisure pools will be open on the weekends at both the east and north locations. The East Boulder Community Center pool will be open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The North Boulder Recreation Center pool will be open on Tuesday and Thursday.
Staffing levels have continued to fluctuate because of the pandemic, the release states.
“Lifeguarding is an opportunity to promote health and safety,” the release states. “For example, twice this summer, BPR lifeguards were the first responders to cardiac events at our facilities and literally saved lives.”
There have been three pay rate increases over the past year with the intention of retaining existing lifeguard staff, spokesperson Jonathan Thornton confirmed. These increases increased a standard lifeguard’s minimum hourly wage from $12.32 to $13.25, with the potential to make up to $15.25 hourly.
“BPR is consulting with the city’s Human Resources department on tools that could assist with recruiting and retention including: referral bonuses, free lifeguard certification for guards who work for BPR, and retention prizes for hard to fill positions,” Thornton wrote in an email.
Furthermore, the department is recruiting new aquatics staff to assist with the shortage and is offering new incentives meant to attract applicants, including a referral reward program for existing employees, increased pay and access to a $5 six-month all-facility recreation pass for seasonal and part-time employees.
The proposed pay increases won’t affect the department’s budget since it identified staffing challenges within the non-standard or seasonal workforce, Thornton said. The 2022 budget includes an additional $200,000 for staff in seasonal or temporary roles.
“Should additional budget be needed, we would bring that request to City Council in May 2022 as an adjustment to the department’s budget,” Thornton wrote.
There are a few aquatics facility job openings available, ranging in pay from about $13 to $20 an hour. Apply for jobs online at BPRJobs.org.