In a letter to the editor, Hoboken resident Kevin Davis explains why he feels the local high school should expand their community hours for their pool.
Did you know that the Hoboken High School pool is open this summer to the community?
If you didn’t know this, I can’t blame you as the pool is only open when most people are at work (Monday and Wednesday from 12PM to 4:30 PM & Tuesday and Thursday from 12PM to 1PM and 3PM to 4:30 PM).
The Hoboken School District tried to make waves with this announcement, but instead only made ripples. To best utilize the Hoboken High School pool, it should be open on weekends and evenings as well.
During the failed January 2022 school bond referendum campaign, the school board argued that the new community amenities in the proposed high school would be open to the public. They even enlisted their allies in Hoboken city government to argue these points.
Here are some of their quotes from the referendum campaign:
“A brand-new high school will be a transformative project for Hoboken, paving the way for an improved educational experience for our children and improving the quality of life of our residents with a much-needed pool and upgraded facilities,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla.
“In Hoboken, we bemoan the lack of a pool, the lack of recreation space, the lack of arts facilities – in one fell swoop many of those needs can be filled. While cynics may say we’ll never get access to the new pool, gym, theater, or rink – I for one take the Board of Ed at their word,” Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero.
“The neighborhood will undoubtedly be able to benefit from the new public amenities associated with the project,” Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle.
Knowing that community access to school facilities is important to our Hoboken City elected officials, I didn’t expect that the Hoboken city government was responsible for the lack of optimal school pool hours.
That was until I came across School Board Trustee Sheillah Dallara’s comments in the Hoboken Parents Facebook group.
Ms. Dallara stated:
“During the summer, we give full access to Hoboken High School’s indoor pool to the City of Hoboken’s Recreation Department to offer whatever programs or open swim times that they wish to provide to the residents. The City is responsible for providing life guards, tending to the pool, and notifying the public regarding their swim times,” she wrote.
“It is important to know that the Hoboken Public School District does not have any oversight of the City’s swim times during the summer or when it starts. This year, we received a letter from the Recreation Department requesting dates and times and we approved all.”
There is much that the city could have done to have more staffing at the high school pool.
They could increase lifeguard pay to attract more talent, advertise lifeguard job listings in the early spring to have more time to recruit and train lifeguards, and they could even poach lifeguards from the private sector with better salaries.
Instead, the city failed to make community access to the high school pool a priority.
Even though the city government is largely to blame for this, the School Board isn’t powerless in expanding community hours to the pool.
During the 2021 Hoboken Municipal Elections, Trustees Ailene McGuirk, Chatali Khanna, Malani Cademartori, and Tom Kluepfel publicly endorsed Team Bhalla.
Any of those members could contact our city elected officials to lobby them for expanded pool hours. If Ravi Bhalla and his allies want to continue to get political support from school board trustees, then they need to support more staffing for the pool in the summer.
School board members have a choice, they can use their political capital to push for expanded community access to school facilities in the summer, or they can be silent.
The city and the school district must do more to expand Hoboken High School’s pool hours during the summer.