2005-12-16 / Editorial/Opinion

DOE Should Allocate Money For Lifeguard Training

There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that there is a seasonal lifeguard shortage in Rockaway. The Department of Parks says that its goal is to man 65 percent of the Rockaway beaches during the week and 75 percent on the weekends. It cannot even meet that paltry goal. On most summer days, no more than 60 percent of the peninsula’s beaches are guarded and therefore open to swimmers. That is unacceptable and the percentage of manned beaches seems to be dropping each summer. The Department of Education’s (DOE) Region Five recently came up with a good idea. Speared on by Rockaway resident Hank Iori, the program would train students in public and private high schools to get ready for the lifeguard test and then to become open water lifeguards who could then work on Rockaway’s beaches. The Region wants to run four sites, one of them at Far Rockaway High School. The problem is that the DOE, while sponsoring the program, will not fund it. The total cost of the program at all four sites is approximately $25,000. The DOE is looking to local politicians, civic organizations and individuals to fund the program through donations. We cannot understand why the DOE cannot fund such a relatively small amount of money. After all, that city agency has the money to buy each regional supervisor (more than two dozen in each region) a Blackberry device and to pay monthly bills in the tens of thousands of dollars for the service. It can buy its literacy coaches (each school has at least two or three) laptop computers. It can pay all sorts of expenses for conferences and meetings. How can it not have $25,000 to provide students with the wherewithal to earn money during the summer breaks and, at the same time, to open our summer beaches? Providing the money seems to be a no-brainer for the DOE. Obviously, however, it has better things to do with its taxpayer money.

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