February 28, 2024

YMCA to provide discount to all NCSD employees

CEO says partnership is to help build community, strengthen teacher wellness

Erick Zehr, director of operations and marketing for Newton YMCA, speaks to member Taylor McDonnell, who is a school counselor at Aurora Heights Elementary School.

Teachers and staff at Newton Community School District will receive discounted memberships to the Newton YMCA, which CEO Lucas Hughes says is an effort to build community and strengthen the employee base through wellness. Only permanent employees in the school district are eligible to receive the discount.

School board members on Nov. 27 approved an agreement with the YMCA to kickstart the partnership. According to district documents, the employee discount extends to both individual and family members. The program would officially start on Jan. 1, 2024. Here are discounts for each type of membership:

• Adult membership would be $32 per month instead of $52 per month.

• Family membership would be $54 per month instead of $74 per month.

• Senior membership would be $20 per month instead of $40 per month.

“The way I look at it is, the YMCA wants to give in any way they possibly can to allow this to happen,” Hughes said of the $10 discount and the $10 subsidy from the school district. “…What it amounts to is: How can we get teachers to stay here in Newton? How can we get them to be healthy in Newton?”

Hughes added the partnership could theoretically lower medical expenses for staff members at the school district. As part of the agreement, no other discount can be stacked. All Newton schools employees have to bring in their badge to get a membership discount started.

“We’re just trying to provide a nice partnership again with the school district saying, hey, here’s how the YMCA can help,” Hughes said.

YMCA partners with the school district to provide preschool curriculum to youth; the collaboration has also extended to Peck Child Development Center.

Tim Bloom, director of business services for Newton schools, said the district would pay its end from the savings in the health insurance fund. Per the agreement, the district and YMCA will re-evaluate the partnership on a periodic basis to determine its effectiveness and cost feasibility.

Hughes noted he does not know how many school employees currently use the YMCA services, but he understands there are quite a few who utilize the facility’s programming or preschool offerings. The CEO admitted it might be a bump in the road financially by giving away so many discounts.

“But it’s important,” Hughes said. “You guys are one of the largest employers in town and also one of our largest advocates.”

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.