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Calipatria follows through with quick fix for summer, buses youths to Brawley to swim

June 27, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — The first wave of youths from this city went by bus to the Brawley public city swimming pool Wednesday as Calipatria school district and city officials attempt to give as many kids as possible a chance to swim this summer.

The effort to bus kids to Brawley is a quick fix for a summer in which kids in the city will not have their own public swimming pool.

The Calipatria High School swimming pools, which had been community pools during the summer, were closed by county Environmental Health Services in May. Both pools were in a state of disrepair and were operating in violation of state laws pertaining to public pool maintenance.

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In response the Calipatria Unified School District board is moving toward building new pool facilities with the idea that it could prove less expensive to build a new pool rather than repair the existing facilities.

While new facilities are expected to be built prior to summer 2003 with both the city and school district looking for grants to cover the costs, that does not address the need this summer.

To make sure youths have a chance to swim in a safe environment, the school district has tapped into its federal 21st Century grant that covers the cost of after-school tutoring and recreation programs.

Through that grant the district will subsidize the cost of operating two buses that will take children in kindergarten through eighth grade to Brawley.

The district also will cover the cost of passes for kids to swim and will cover a portion of lifeguard costs at the Brawley pool.

Mondays through Fridays the district will bus about 40 kids to Brawley at 2:45 p.m. and bring them back to Calipatria at 5:15 p.m.

Starting next week, a second bus will be added that will focus on kindergartners through third- graders. That bus is expected to take about 40 to 50 kids a day to Brawley.

Kids have to be signed up in advance to go, said Maria Nava, who heads migrant educational services for the Calipatria school district. She said a different group of kids is bused to Brawley each day to make sure all youths who wish to go have a chance to swim during the week.

Two adults are supervising the kids — Alfonso Romero, a counselor at Bill E. Young Middle School, and Lucille Milan, an aide at Calipatria High School. In addition, AmeriCorps workers will meet the Calipatria kids at the Brawley pool and help in their supervision.

Nava said anyone with questions about the swimming program can contact her at 348-5025.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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