Officials at the American Red Cross are reviewing results of a survey meant to further address concerns over a new pricing structure. The survey asked providers for feedback on learn-to-swim programs, and while results are not yet public, it may mean price changes.
“It could result in changes to the pricing structure,” said Connie Harvey, Red Cross manager of aquatics programs.
The online survey was created in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association. It was sent out in late December 2011 to providers, instructors, NRPA members and Red Cross partner organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America and the American Camp Association.
Respondents were asked directly about the cost of their learn-to-swim programs and level of satisfaction with their current programs. As of press time, results were still being assessed and shared with officials and NRPA partners.
“We had great response, more than 2,700 people,” Harvey said. “That clearly tells us how important an issue this is to everybody.”
The new fees were implemented abruptly last June, and a number of program providers have found that they are unable to meet the new prices. The Red Cross has stated that is willing to be flexible and work with agencies that have an issue; however, some agencies have opted to look to new provider options.
“We’re planning for summer and soon fall programs. We have to move on,” said John Berlin, programs branch manager, Park Services Division, Fairfax County (Va.) Park Authority.
His agency has collaborated with other local organizations, forming an aquatics group to create its own learn-to-swim curriculum. Berlin said the Park Authority did receive the survey, and a colleague responded. He added that earlier, the Red Cross offered them a discount for the first year, but at this writing, Berlin was not able to accept that. For his organization, an increase in fees to even $1 per learn-to-swim student violates purchasing rules, requiring that the agency go to bid for a lesson provider.
“We’ve long hoped that there would be some rethinking about the timing and the approach,” Berlin said. “We have no desire to have to drop the program, but we’re put in an awkward position.”