ATLANTIC CITY - A local teacher's union has agreed to oblige state Sen. Jim Whelan's request to lessen his school district work schedule and salary in an effort to save the city's swimming program.

Whelan, who currently earns about $90,000 to run the program, asked the district to lower his work days from five a week to three and a half a week to cut costs and rescue the district's swimming lessons that found their way to the chopping block. Whelan's employment was never in jeopardy.

School board members agreed to make the cuts and keep the program, but union officials had concerns that the move would not be lawful and could set a bad precedent. However, Marcia Genova, president of the Atlantic City Education Association, confirmed Wednesday that the proposal is within Whelan's rights.

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"It is his legal right to voluntarily become a part-time employee, and that's what he's doing," Genova said. "With that understanding, we are not objecting to it."

Superintendent Fredrick Nickles said he received a letter from Genova today that laid out her opinion. Nickles said the district intends to move forward with the new arrangement.

"It's going to be modified to a certain degree, but we're still going to provide swimming," said Fredrick Nickles, the district's superintendent. "To have three swimming pools and not utilize them ... that's almost negligent."

Whelan was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.



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