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Swimming pools: A 'quality of life indicator'

| Saturday, June 30, 2001

CHARLEROI - Charleroi School District won't be closing the pool at the high school.

It just may look to expand use of the facility instead.

The idea of closing the pool - in existence since the high school was built in 1965 - got serious consideration by the school board during budget talks before being rejected last week.

'It was a topic of discussion at budget deliberations, said Charleroi Area Superintendent Dr. John Lozosky. 'But the board decided that was not going to occur.

'It was a financial decision, as far as upkeep, maintenance and utilities,' added Lozosky, who said that cost cutting was the only reason behind the talks. 'That was part of the general discussion of the budget for a possible cut. It was one of several things discussed.'

The board adopted its budget for the 2001-02 year at a total just over $15 million. According to district business manager George Safin, the total cost of maintenance for the pool is approximately $15,500, not including the cost of programs.

Safin broke down the costs as $1,500 for chlorine and muratic acid, $2,000 for repairs to the heater and between $10,000 and $12,000 for water.

The decision to keep the pool open grew from the realization that more than just students and the swim team use it.

'The pool is an asset not only to the sports program but to the curriculum,' said Lozosky. 'It's a quality of life indicator.'

Bill Wiltz, the district's athletic director, said, 'I like the pool. It's a good asset to the school district. I definitely wasn't in favor of closing it down.'

Wiltz said that discussion to fill in the pool caused him to think about other possible uses for the space.

'There was a discussion about putting in an auxiliary gymnasium there,' said Wiltz. 'There was absolutely no discussion about that with the board, but just between myself and (Principal) George Lammay. But I'm glad they kept the pool.'

Brian Corrin, Charleroi swim teacher, said he also favored keeping the pool open.

'In my case, as a high school teacher, my participation with the ninth grade is pretty good,' said Corrin.

Ninth grade students must have at least one quarter of pool participation as part of the curriculum.

'In ninth grade I know I had at least 80 percent of the kids (in a pool class). Pretty much all of them passed their level four stroke development test.'

Laura Jane Amodei, the school's varsity swim coach, has been at Charleroi for nearly 25 years. She was in favor of keeping the pool open, too.

'I know it was nothing personal, that it was totally to save money, but I still did not want to see it happen,' she said. 'They talked about closing the pool back in 1998 and I couldn't accept that. I couldn't accept it now, either.'

Amodei said that Charleroi is in the process of rebuilding its swim program, starting on the middle school level.

'We have a real nice middle school team, plus we have intramurals in the summer for kids to participate in.'

Others hope to see the school's pool used even more.

The pool currently is used for curriculum, the middle school and varsity swim teams, and for summer intramural programs.

Amodei has other ideas for use of the pool.

'The pool could be used for cross-training for football and other sports,' she said. 'I do a lot of that now with football players. It would be a very good asset in that respect. There are many possibilities.'

Corrin said he, too, has ideas for the pool.

'I'd really like to see an aquatics program instituted for grade kindergarten through 12,' he said. 'That would be very beneficial.'

Lozosky agreed, noting that at least one outside organization would be using the pool as part of its curriculum.

'The Community College of Allegheny County will use it for a community course,' Lozosky said. 'It's one of the courses CCAC will offer at Charleroi.'

He also talked about the possibility of opening the pool to the public, something that hasn't been done in years. 'It's been some time since we had any type of open swim, but we're looking at growth in that area.'







SIDEBAR



Liability, cost keep come from having pools





By JEFF OLIVER

Staff Writer



Charleroi Area is not the only Mon Valley school with a pool, but high school pools are not the norm, either.

While Ringgold, Elizabeth Forward and Belle Vernon Area all have pools, Monessen, California Area, Bentworth and Frazier do not.

Officials at those school districts that do have pools say they get a lot of use.

'Our pool is used for more than just school functions,' said Ringgold Athletic Director Jason Ross. 'We just finished a swim class that (varsity swim coach) Raylene Klinger teaches. It was an introductory class for kids and went on for at least three weeks.

'It was an out of school thing.'

Ross added that Ringgold offers its pool to the general public for use and requests are seldom turned down.

'We do have outside organizations at times request to use the pool,' he said. 'Basically, they get permission as long as someone (from the school) can be there.

'A lot of outside organizations use it, as well as our elementary schools. Our pool is used a lot.'

Elizabeth Forward Athletic Director Frank Vulcano said his school's pool is used similarly.

'We have both middle school and high school swim teams, as well as a swim club that uses the pool year-round,' said Vulcano. 'We have recreation swims twice a month for the general public during the school year.

'And we rent the pool for parties on Sundays.'

When Monessen built its new high school, there was some discussion about including a pool, according to Superintendent R. Gene Malarbi.

'We did have discussions, but there were two concerns,' Malarbi said. 'One was cost and the other was the liability issue.

'We discussed it, but the discussions didn't go very far.'

Malarbi recalled that at the time of construction of the high school-middle school, a pool would have cost 'between three-quarters of a million and one million dollars.'

As for the liability issue, Malarbi feels that is a reason why a lot of schools don't have a pool.

'Liability is a big these days,' he said. 'We just thought our money would be better spent in out other facilities in the school. Because of these factors, a lot of schools don't have a pool.'

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