Dear Ortonville-Brandon Community,
Over the past several months, the Brandon School District has been working on plans to re-launch community education and make a number of much needed improvements to our aquatics program. To provide background on the aquatic center, it was built in 1996 through a local bond initiative and has served both the school district and community ever since. This was a vibrant program for many years, but the following are concerns that have been raised by the community and our school district parents over the past several years.
· The general operation of the pool has been inefficient and poorly managed.
· There is a need to improve safety especially as it relates to lifeguard staffing and practices. Currently, there are four staff members and two are leaving the district before the end-of-this month.
· There is not enough access and/or programming for the youth of this community.
· There is a need for a qualified pool expert to operate this program.
· There has been declining pool usage by the community and especially its youth.
· There is a need for improved communication and advertising regarding aquatic center activities for all ages.· There are significant short and long-term financial obligations for operating the facility.
· There is a drastic shortage of independent funding to cover the basic costs of the pool and its programming. We also see a declining trend in annual revenue from memberships and classes.
· State aid dollars received by the school district and dedicated to educating Brandon students are being used to supplement pool operations every year.
When the Brandon School District began to take serious corrective action, the first step was to find a highly qualified and experienced expert in the area of aquatics. With the need for safety and the scope of this program, this is not a place for a novice hoping to figure things out as they go. The district posted the position, recruited and were not able to find the individual that we needed at the price that we could afford. As we continued to search for a qualified expert to lead our program, we learned that many local communities were using management services to help operate their aquatics programs. The management companies provide the expertise, the staffing, the marketing, the vision, the oversight and the programming that these districts need but often not able to deliver on their own. Unable to find the highly qualified and experienced expert to fill this need, the district began to explore a potential partnership with a swim company called Aqua Club.
They are a highly recommended aquatics management company founded by a 2-time Olympian that works with Oxford, Clarkston, West Bloomfield and a few other school districts. The following is a link to the program overview for Aqua Club that is provided on the Brandon School District webpage http://www.brandonschooldistrict.org/index.php/upgrading-aquatics-program.
As the discussions continued on the concept of working with a management company, the district found many positives for both the school district and the community. Of the many positives, their access to the highly qualified and experienced experts and cadre of lifeguards is perhaps their greatest strength. Furthermore, the draft contract developed guarantees that the “community” aspect of the Brandon Aquatic Center is preserved with open swim times, classes for adults and more. This remains a non-negotiable factor for the school district.
In conclusion, there is agreement from almost everyone that significant changes are needed with our aquatics program. While we continue to have discussions on how best to implement these changes, we are on the same team and driving towards the same goals. We want an aquatic center that offers great classes to our youth and adults. We want an aquatic center that has open swimming opportunities for all ages. We want an aquatic center that offers competitive swimming opportunities for our youth. We want an aquatic center that supports the school’s athletic swim teams. Ultimately, we want an aquatic center that best serves our community and does so in as efficient and financially responsible manner as possible.
We look forward to some significant improvements and we remain steadfast in our commitment to quality in all that we do. Go Blackhawks!!!
Matthew S. Outlaw
Superintendent for the Brandon School District