Expect him to get nowhere. The city firefighter met with school officials on Wednesday and says their minds seemed already made up.
"There was absolutely no room for negotiation, to be creative," he said. "Every time we started talking about a way to fix this, someone would step up and say, 'I thought we agreed to the policy.' "
I wrote a column last month after Assistant Superintendent Barry Caldwell shared a list at a school board meeting of what other clubs in the region pay to rent pools. Those fees were nearly a dozen times higher than the fee the Atlantic City club paid, but still a fair amount, Caldwell said.
He didn't return my call after the meeting, which is a shame. Because when Superintendent Donna L. Haye spoke to me a couple of times last week, her exasperation over a run of bad press was palpable.
This summer, she said, the district looked at some of its leases and wondered why an organization like Holy Spirit High School in Absecon pays $320 a day to use the school pool at the Martin Luther King complex, yet the swim club paid less than one-tenth of that.
The district's assumption was that the swim club came under the umbrella of the city Recreation Department. Turns out, it doesn't.
The geographic composition of the club also troubled the district. Haney describes membership as a delicate balance: suburban swimmers subsidizing city kids. The goal is 60 percent from inside the city and 40 percent nonresident.
But when the club produced its roster for the school district, of 164 swimmers, only 40 were found to actually live in the city, the superintendent says.
That confirmed her hunch:
"They are really an exclusive, elite swim club that wants to use the pool," she said. "It's a burden on the Atlantic City taxpayers to subsidize that."
Haney described the 60/40 mix as a goal the club had met one of the two years he's been president. The share of Atlantic City residents had been much higher, but many dropped out this fall when the district hiked the rent. Instead of letting city kids pay one-sixth of what the suburban swimmers pay, the club had to charge all the same fee.
For the new rate to become permanent, the board doesn't need to take any action on Monday, Haye said. The club will likely run out of money in November.
City kids would suffer most.
On Monday night, Haye will offer them a life raft.
"Our board is investigating a program to reach all of our children and teach them to be lifelong swimmers," she said.
Lessons would be free to any Atlantic City resident and could start within two months. In time, she said, a competitive swimming program would emerge.
Late last week, an eleventh-hour proposal was making the rounds in city offices that would officially place the Atlantic City Aquatic Club under the rec department and require that at least half its swimmers be residents. The superintendent borrowed a phrase from another sport to describe that move.
"They're trying to do an end run," she said. What would happen if City Council approved such an agreement? I asked.
"We'd have to evaluate it," she said. "But we are not bound by that."
Sounds like a too-good thing is about to end.
Contact Daniel Rubin at 215-854-5917, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @danielrubin or Facebook at http://ph.ly/DanRubin.