Assemblyman William Colton (D-Bensonhurst), community activist Mark Treyger, Principal Howard Lucks of New Utrecht High School, Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, and other community leaders met back in September to discuss the shortage of city beach lifeguards and how to use city schools to help with the problem. Assemblyman Colton suggested to the Parks Department that they incorporate their city lifeguard certification program into New Utrecht High School, since the school has a pool and an active swimming program.
Now, the Parks Department will launch a program whereby students in New Utrecht will earn high school credit as they become certified to guard city beaches.
The preliminary try-outs for the lifeguard program will start in January to ensure that students meet the basic requirements. (20/30 vision in both eyes, and must demonstrate a certain speed in their swimming).
The official program is slated to begin in February and last through June, just in time when the city's beaches plan to reopen.
Colton said: "This is an excellent solution in that it represents a win-win situation for our community. Not only will our kids earn high school credit in doing something they already enjoy, but they will also have a great opportunity to get a summer job--in effect, helping the city in its time of need."
Mark Treyger said: "I am pleased that the city is working on recruiting lifeguards here at home as opposed to looking out to countries throughout Europe. The city still must address the inadequate pay of city certified beach lifeguards and must consider creating part-time posts and offering bonus pay for lifeguards that complete a full summer session of work."
Currently, city lifeguards earn $10.75 an hour as compared to lifeguards in Los Angeles that earn over $15.00 an hour. In addition, the certification process for city beach lifeguards is far more rigorous than the one for city pool lifeguards, however both positions earn the same pay. The city must compensate city beach lifeguards by offering them higher pay.
Both Colton and Treyger offered praise to New Utrecht High School and its principal, Dr. Howard Lucks for stepping up in the city's time of need. "Dr. Lucks has incorporated an important civic responsibility into his school's curriculum that will benefit his students and the entire community – and for that, he must be commended and praised," said Colton.