The City of Indianapolis employed 246 lifeguards this summer, but hired only fifteen (15) Indianapolis Public School (IPS) students; even though most of the city’s public swimming pools are located in IPS neighborhoods. That stunning and shocking statistics was finally obtained from the Department of Parks and Recreation of the City of Indianapolis after a public records request that the city refused to respond to for nearly eighteen weeks. Afternoons with Amos requested on May 24th the total number of lifeguards employed by Indy Parks, how many were high school students and in what high schools. The program also requested the race/ethnicity and gender of those lifeguards. Indy Parks and City officials stalled and delayed the request. Finally providing a limited amount of information on September 24th. The data showed that just 6.1% of the city’s 246 lifeguards were IPS high school students. The majority of the city/county’s outdoor swimming pools don’t open on the traditional Memorial Day Weekend. Instead they open nearly two weeks later. All those pools are located in IPS neighborhoods. On May 24, Maureen Faul, Public Information Officer for Indy Parks told Afternoons with Amos that scheduling of lifeguards in those neighborhoods was the reason the pools in inner city neighborhoods opened later. Said Faul then, “Our second wave of Indy Parks Aquatic Centers will open Saturday, June 8, coinciding with the IPS schedule ending their 2012-2013 school calendar on June 11. We have utilized a staggered opening schedule successfully in recent years due to changing school calendars. Indy Parks hires hundreds of HS students to staff our pools, and simply cannot get adequate staffing which is necessary to provide safe facilities, when our schedules do not match those of neighborhood high schools.” But the data grudgingly provided by Indy Parks and the City’s Corporation Counsel’s Office shows that the Indy Parks stated reason for its staggered opening of swimming pools is factually not correct. The largest single group of lifeguards are students at the city/county’s high schools in the Marion County’s eight township districts, plus Speedway and Beech Grove high schools. Some 41.9% of all lifeguards, some 103 lifeguards were students at township high schools. The next largest group of lifeguards are college students. A third (33.3%) or 82, are college students at a variety of Indiana and out of state colleges and universities. The City refused to provide the Zip Code or city of residence information on lifeguards. So there’s no way to know how many of those college student lifeguards are not residents of Marion County. However Indy Parks did hire thirteen (13) high school lifeguards who attend high schools outside of Marion County. Including Avon, Brownsburg, Hamilton Southeastern and Westfield Washington. Some 5.3% of all lifeguards are out of Indy residents attending out of county high schools. Another twenty (20) lifeguards, 8.1%, attend private or parochial high schools. However some of those hired are probably not residents of Marion County. An additional five lifeguards, 2.0% of the total, attend one of Indianapolis’ charter schools and one lifeguard (0.4%) attends one of the high schools taken over by the State of Indiana (and now supervised by the Mayor’s Charter School Office). Inexplicably, Indy Parks and the City compiled no information on the race/ethnicity of the city’s lifeguards. Judging from the schools attended by the lifeguards, Afternoons with Amos estimates that some thirty-five (35) of the lifeguards are African-American. That’s 14.2% of the total. A figure far, far below the percentage of African-Americans in the city/county. Given that lifeguards are high school and college students, virtually all are between 16 and 24 years old. In Indianapolis/Marion County, 30.5% of all 16 to 24 year olds are African-American. The 2012 Census American Community Survey reports that of all 16 to 24 year olds employed in the city/county last year, 24.5% of them were African-American. Click the Arrow to Hear Details of Afternoons with Amos’ Findings About Makeup of Indy Parks’ Lifeguards. Runs 32 Minutes ©2013 WTLC/Radio One. Then Below read Response from the Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation.
“Indy Parks values diversity among our staff members, and our total staff composition reflects the rich diversity found throughout our Indianapolis community. Regarding our lifeguards, we respectfully ask that you substantiate your claims and explain how you reached your conclusions about our staffing levels. From the applications we receive – the same applications that were provided to you – neither the applicant’s race nor gender can be determined. We go to great lengths to recruit lifeguards from all areas of the county. In particular, we have worked to cultivate interest in lifeguarding and to recruit IPS students. At Arsenal Tech High School and Washington High School – both IPS schools – Indy Parks has offered three opportunities for a FREE, 3-day lifeguard training course. Indy Parks Aquatics will again offer community lifeguard training classes at George Washington High School Community Pool on December 27, 28, and 29, 2013. Your assistance in promoting attendance at these training sessions is greatly appreciated. In addition, we offer a reduced class fee of $10 to all lifeguard applicants who will be working any Center Township park pool and is funded through the Summer Youth Fund. Water safety and basic swimming skills are an important part of our programming at all Indy Parks pools. This past summer, we served 1,650 kids through our Make a Splash free water safety program. In addition to developing important water safety skills, we know that developing swimming skills at an early age is a factor that leads teens to look at lifeguarding as a job option. Scheduling decisions for the operation of swimming pools is heavily influenced by local balanced school calendars, which affect the number of patrons as well as the availability of properly trained lifeguards to ensure the safety of our patrons. We will continue our efforts to actively recruit lifeguards from neighborhoods near our pools, and we look to our local media outlets as partners in this effort. Our recruitment efforts will continue to include press releases, Facebook posts, flyers, and in-person recruiting efforts.”