A continued shortage of lifeguards could hamper operations at the city’s pool at Overland Park this summer.
City officials say they are currently short of the number of lifeguards they need, creating the possibility that some pools in the city will operate at reduced hours or remain completely closed.
This is not a new problem locally.
Last summer, several towns in Johnson County — including Roeland Park, Prairie Village and Shawnee — struggled to fill lifeguard positions and cut pool hours accordingly.
It coincided with wider shortages of lifeguards Across the countrya problem attributed at least in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overland Park Shortage
Lifeguard vacancies also impacted Overland Park’s pool schedule last summer.
Overland Park operates six public pools, five of which are outdoor pools open only during the summer season. (The indoor pools at the Matt Ross Community Center are open year-round.)
The city was only able to open three last summer — the Tomahawk Ridge Aquatic Centerthe Youth pool and the Stonegate Pool.
There were 220 total lifeguards on total staff in 2021, and cCity officials say there could be even fewer this year.
In a city newsletter, water sports supervisor Renee Reis said as of this week there are only enough lifeguards signed up to fully staff an outdoor pool for the season. future.
“Swimming is an incredibly fun operation, but safety must remain our top priority,” Reis said. “It’s just not safe to operate swimming pools without a full staff of lifeguards.”
The city says it needs 225 lifeguards to be full for the summer, but currently only has 100 applicants.
If the current number of lifeguards does not increase, Reis says KCTV that the city may only be able to open the Matt Ross pools and two of the outdoor pools.
“We’re not going to put our staff in a position where they can’t properly maintain safety standards,” she said.
City pool lifeguards begin training on May 1 and pools are expected to open for the summer season on May 30.
Anyone interested in applying to become a lifeguard can do so here. The position starts at $13 per hour.
Staffing shortages have also affected other city facilities, including the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmwho warned that its summer lineup could be reduced if some seasonal positions are not filled.