SO Denies Pool Passes to Maplewood Families

Trustees raise guest pass limit for residents; will explore reciprocity with Maplewood.

At Monday's meeting of the South Orange Board of Trustees,  parents asked -- once again -- for access to the S. In response, the Board of Trustees granted South Orange families more guest passes, effective immediately, so residents can bring Maplewood friends to the pool.

It was not the response the parents had hoped for. “I’m extremely disappointed with the direction this project has taken,” said Lisa Fellen, South Mountain parent.

South Mountain School has a student body that is roughly 90 percent South Orange residents, and about ten percent Maplewood residents. South Mountain parents who are Maplewood residents note that the summer can be "difficult" for their children, who aren't able to socialize and swim with their school friends.  Currently, the South Orange pool issues passes only to residents.

A group of South Mountain parents has been asking the trustees to consider issuing passes to those families affected, and have spoken out at previous board meetings. Under plans proposed by the parents, those families would pay the full price. Alternate plans proposed include the possibility of "Twilight Swim" passes, where South Mountain families could pay a reduced fee for partial-day pool access.

Trustees agreed to raise the limit on guest passes from 20 to 50 for a season, which would allow resident families to bring guests more often. They also agreed to contact Maplewood officials to propose a reciprocal arrangement that would allow South Orange residents to use the Maplewood pool.

Other parents agreed with Fellen that the cost of individual guest passes is prohibitive, and doesn't allow for spontaneous gatherings at the pool.

Marcy Felsenfeld July 31, 2012 at 08:14 PM
From my perspective. The right price for families from Maplewood to join the SO pool would likely be comparable to the cost of joining the Maplewood pool if you eliminate the taxpayer subsidy. I think SO should come up with such a rate for families with children attending SO schools regardless of whether Maplewood does the same thing. One town doing the right thing is better than two towns doing the wrong thing.
Pieter John July 31, 2012 at 10:07 PM
This would mean a lot of kids, if you consider the # of Maplewood kids who attend SOMS. About half of Marshall students live in Maplewood, too. Would you take away their privs when they hit 3rd grade and go to Jefferson? I'm not saying we shouldn't do it, just that it is complicated.
Lisa Fellen August 01, 2012 at 07:41 PM
I appreciate all of your comments. For those of you who wrote about your similar situations, I am sure you understand how difficult summers for your children can be when nearly all if their school friends are at another town pool. It is our hope that a solution can be found for these children. Dozens of parents from the South Mountain School community have come forward to express their support. South Mountain School is the only elementary school in the district with with such a low percentage of Maplewood children attending, at 9.8%. Clinton is in a similar but opposite situation with only 15.4% South Orange children attending. All orher elementary schools in the district are more evenly disrtibuted. We are hopeful that the officials of both Maplewood and South Orange will work together to develop a solution to help the children and that the Trustees of South Orange will also continue to explore options that have already been presented.
MusicalMe August 02, 2012 at 08:22 PM
My children attend school out of district. When they go to the South Orange pool, they socialize with neighbors, kids from soccer and other activities, kids of friends of mine or make new friends. (Yes, kids can make new friends.) I'm not asking the towns where they attend school to give me a pool pass. I really find it curious that it's even being considered but agree that SO taxpayers cannot be subsidizing Maplewood residents' attendance at the pool.
Giko August 04, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I agree, and I think learning how to make new friends is a very important life skill. My 9 yr old is an only child and her friends go to the opposite pool but she manages to make new friends every summer at our pool without a problem. I don't set up play dates, that's too much planning ahead and it would drive me crazy, we just spontaneously go when we feel like it and she plays with who ever is there. This is not just about kids having a fun summer, it's a fiscal issue and has to be considered in that manner.


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