THE rate of children in Orange who cannot swim is set to improve with mayor John Davis backing a plan to waive pool entry fees for schools involved in swimming programs.
Cr Davis said Orange has an excellent aquatic facility and councillors want to do all they can to ensure schoolchildren have access to lessons.
“Since I spoke about the proposal in the Central Western Daily the response from people who have talked to council has been absolutely phenomenal.
“People really want this to happen,” Cr Davis said.
Cr Davis said by council starting on plans at setting entry fees aside for school swimming programs it would take away one of the costs involved in teaching children to swim.
“No one wants to see a child who can’t swim and we have this fantastic facility here now in Orange,” he said.
Cr Davis said the next step is to send out expressions of interest to schools.
“We want to be able to sit down with school principals around the table and discuss how big this problem is,” he said.
Cr Davis said although the plan has to be finalised through the appropriate channels at council he is confident the plan is workable and can be funded.
“Council is very keen to move ahead with this,” he said.
Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School principal Michael Croke said the school does not conduct a swimming program because the costs of pool entry for consecutive days and buses to transport the children as well as the cost of teaching proved to be just too expensive for many families.
Orange City Council spokesman Nick Redmond said students who attend lessons with their school are currently charged $2 entry.
“We can look at ways of encouraging more children to take part in lessons and while some schools schedule excursions into their programs which are more expensive it is ultimately their choice to prioritise,” Mr Redmond said.
Mr Croke raised concerns that at the school’s annual swimming carnival many children did not take part because they couldn’t swim, and cited costs as a major factor in involving many children in learn to swim programs.
Mr Redmond said for a fee schools that do not have swimming teachers are able to access teachers provided by council.