Glenbard District 87 to fund boys swim teams
Sports programs cost money, as parents of swimmers at Glenbard High School District 87 have found. They've had to pay their own way to rent pools, get into tournaments, buy equipment and compensate coaches.
But starting next school year, the district will be picking up those costs for the first time for boys teams -- a move that follows the district's initial sponsorship of girls teams last year.
The school board unanimously agreed this week to fund the district's two boys co-op swim programs: one for students at Glenbard North and East, the other at Glenbard West and South.
The four Glenbard high schools have had club swimming programs off and on for decades, but it's only been in the last five years there's been a concerted parent-led effort to better organize the teams and bring them to official status in the district.
District officials have been evaluating the strength of the girls and boys swim programs during that time -- making sure there was enough interest among students -- but they also believe paying for the programs will make swimming more affordable for families and give more students a chance to participate.
"It's a huge money issue, and, unfortunately, there were students who couldn't participate because of the financial responsibility that parents would have to take on," said Kristin Witteveen, the mother of two swimmers at Glenbard North who has helped lead the effort to get district funding.
Witteveen said she and her family realized only after moving to District 87 that their local high school's swim team was funded by parents.
"My children have been swimming since they were 6, and when we realized they go to a school that doesn't have a school-funded swim team, we were like, 'What? We've never heard of that,'" she said. "Swimming is a huge sport in this area. ... I can only foresee the sport growing, and the team getting bigger and bigger."
Witteveen said it cost families about $750 per swimmer per year, though the price tag depended on how many swimmers were on the team.
The school district is estimating it could cost between $45,000 and $60,000 to run the two Glenbard swimming programs. Students will still be asked to contribute a $150 athletic fee and to raise $150 each to help cover pool rental costs.
Glenbard has an agreement with the Carol Stream Park District that allows the school district to use the pool at the Fountain View Fitness Center. The school district is paying $350,000 over 10 years for the Glenbard North/East boys and girls teams to use the pool and for physical education swimming classes.
The Glenbard West/South team uses the pool at College of DuPage, which costs about $10,000 in annual rent.
About 30 students are expected to join each of the Glenbard boys teams. Some 45 students participate on the district's girls teams.