Local conservative radio personality Rob Schilling asserts that summer pool passes, recently introduced by the Charlottesville Department of Parks and Recreation, will be discounted only for students who attend city schools, or who are home schooled. He writes:
Hey, doesn’t that debar a huge number of Charlottesville kids (i.e. those attending private schools)? Why on earth would we exclude children whose parents pay copious city taxes, but don’t dun a dime’s worth of City public education resources?
Courtney Stewart of independent weekly The Hook repeats the charges in a story on the city pools, and Henry Graff of NBC-29 picked up the tale and spoke with Schilling as well as Charlottesville City Spokesperson Ric Barrick. My friends at CVilleNews highlight the story, adding that “the current policy (was) set by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.”
I mention all this media attention because that was where I first heard this “news”, despite the fact the I am actually on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. I would understand some outrage at this idea, if it were remotely true, but that is not what we proposed. Rather, we voted for a tiered pricing structure that differentiates between City and non-City residents, and offer discounts to city students. That does not mean, and never meant, that we were excluding city residents who attend private schools. There may be a semantic argument here that we did not word our intentions clearly enough, but to assert, as Schilling does repeatedly, that we are discriminating against private schools, or somehow punishing families who remove their children from public schools, is asinine.
The Parks and Rec Citizen Advisory Board met today and toured the still-under-construction Onesty Pool at Meade Park. This is going to be a fantastic facility for the community. Although we did not sit in a formal session, we all discussed Schilling’s charges and agreed that his interpretation was erroneous. Across the board, we are interested in encouraging participation in the new season pass system. We voted to keep the price as low as reasonably possible, and to make the passes attainable for as many Charlottesville families as we can. I encourage all city residents to consider purchasing the summer pool pass — particularly now before Memorial Day, when the passes are discounted even further — and enjoy the summer in city pools.