A swimming program will not be included in West York School District's budget next year.

School board members reviewed two proposed programs at their meeting this week, but decided they'd rather spend the money on academics.

The kindergarten option for swimming at the Graham Aquatic Center at the YMCA would cost the district $47,000, assistant superintendent Carol Powell told the school board.

The proposed second-grade option, an after-school swimming program, would cost the district $33,000 for an eight-week program and $30,000 for a seven-week program at the YMCA.

"This comes right on the heels of the reality of our budget concerns, but also the concerns we have that are academic in nature, regarding having enough academic interventions for students who are struggling," said Powell. "If we're going to spend, we'd like to focus more on our academic programs."

While all board members agreed on the importance of swimming and its value as a life skill, they disagreed about whether the district should cover the cost.

Powell reminded board members that parents have opportunities to expose their children to swimming through other programs offered in the community, some that offer sliding scale fees for low-income families.

"I'd like to see the money go to keeping a teacher down the road," said board member Jeanne Herman, "We can't take on every life skill. We're working hard with reading, writing, and math, and I'd rather us focus on those things that open (students') minds to educational excellence, and leave the swimming to the parents."

But board member Brian Strathmeyer said: "I have a tough time not providing this service to our kids."

Superintendent Emilie Lonardi said it's an issue of timing.

Public schools in the state continue to face decreased state funding, and West York is in the beginning stages of a $47.5 million renovation project.

The majority of board members agreed that, at this time, a swimming program would not be added to the agenda for the upcoming board meeting. As a result, the proposed swimming options will not be added to the budget for next school year.

Last January, the board explored possible options of partnering with an outside agency to offer high school students time to swim at the district's expense. At that time, the board decided to shift its focus to swimming instruction options at the younger grade levels.