Dubuque public pools summer schedules will depend on filling staffing shortages, city officials say

Dubuque city leaders say whether they can open both public pools in their regular schedules will depend on whether they can find the people to staff them.
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 11:05 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Despite the cold weather, Dubuque city officials are already looking ahead to summer and opening their public pools. However, they say whether they can open both Flora and Sutton pools in their regular schedules will depend on whether they can find the people to staff them.

Dan Kroger, the city’s recreation division manager, said Dubuque would need around 20 staff members working per pool in order for it to operate fully, which would mean they need about 80 lifeguards to cover both pools seven days a week.

The city is taking extra steps this year to try and make these jobs more attractive. Specifically, Kroger said they will be giving those wanting to work as lifeguards a hand with their certification.

“Lifeguards usually have to pay out of pocket for their certification and that can range anywhere from $30 for a renewal to almost $200 for a full certification,” he mentioned. “So what we are doing this year is we are actually using operating funds that we have saved from the last year to be able to pay for those certifications for our potential lifeguards.”

Kroger explained, though, the idea is these potential lifeguards must commit to working Dubuque pools in order to take advantage of these new benefits.

“How it would work, for those lifeguards to finally get their certification they do have to stay on with us and work with us in the summer, so we would not necessarily have potential staff come in, take the trainings but then go elsewhere with their certification,” he added.

Last year the city increased the wages for lifeguards to $12.50 an hour. That wage will remain in place this year.

Kroger said the city also began advertising for lifeguard positions much earlier than usual, which, according to him, has already helped them gather a few potential employees. He mentioned by this time last year, no one had gone through the application process to work the pools, but he said this year they already have around a dozen people on board.

City staff were only able to open one of two pools at a time last year and used an alternating schedule. City staff said, even though they are hopeful, they are prepared for the possibility of not being able to open on a regular schedule. Kroger said they would need to come to a decision on that by mid April.

People interested in working as a lifeguard, pool staff member, or in any other summer position are encouraged to visit cityofdubuque.org.

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