The Buffalo Bulletin misrepresented the Johnson County YMCA’s usage agreement with the Johnson County School District in its Aug. 22 story “Pay to use.”
Johnson County YMCA CEO Tim Miner said that the YMCA is charging the school district $73,000 to use the pool for over 1,000 hours in the 2019-20 school year including swim lessons, swim team practice, swim meets, adaptive P.E., middle school P.E. and incentive days for elementary classes throughout the year.
Miner says that this agreement has remained largely unchanged in the past five years. The rate increased from $70,000 in the 2017-18 school year to $73,000 in the 2018-19 school year, but has been at or above $70,000 for the last five years.
The yearly fee is determined through the YMCA’s fair share calculation, which considers the costs of staff, utilities, maintenance and everything else involved in operating the YMCA facilities when setting fees, Miner said. Fair share is also used to determine membership fees and program fees at the YMCA, Miner said.
“The idea is that if we rented out every hour at the pool, we would break even on the cost of operating the aquatics center,” Miner said. “Every member and every user pays their fair share of this organization’s costs.”
Miner said that, while the YMCA’s yearly fees for the school district have not changed this year, the school district’s funding from the Johnson County Recreation District has decreased.
"The Rec District awards have dropped across the board, including our request at the Y and the one made by the school district for the usage agreement which governs use of the Y pool,” Miner said. “As an organization we have been diligent is cutting costs and developing additional funding sources the last 18 months in preparation for such a shift in funding. This year the impact of the smaller award on the school district required them to contribute the difference."
Historically, the rec district funded all or most of the school district’s full $73,000 for the swim program, which the school district then paid to the Y, Miner said. However, during the 2019 granting season, the school district only received $50,000 to subsidize the program, which required the school district to allocate the remaining $23,000 of its own funds to cover the costs outlined in the agreement.
The school board voted unanimously on Aug. 12 to fund the remaining $23,000 for the swim program.
“Our students don't risk life or limb by not playing golf, but they do risk life and limb by not knowing how to swim," Trustee Margo Sabec said. "This is one of the most beneficial programs we offer because swimming is a life skill that will stay with our students for their whole lives. There is no way to cut things out of this list (of services provided at the YMCA pool) because every part of it is reinforcing our kids' ability to survive in water.”
The school district’s need to dip into their own coffers to fund the swim program and other aquatics programs for all grade levels comes as rec board allocations in 2019 totaled $323,400, down from $402,203 in 2018 . In 2019, the rec district allocated $50,000 for the JCSD swim program, down from $70,000 in 2018.
In April, rec board President Jack Tarter said that he expected that number to get even smaller in coming years.
“We can only spend what's actually in the bank account,” Tarter said in an April 25 Bulletin article. "Next year, we're looking at our mill being even smaller. "
The Bulletin’s Aug. 22 opinion column “What’s the plan?” was also based on reporter Stephen Dow’s incorrect reporting. The Bulletin regrets this error