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Olean School Board members grappled Wednesday night with details of a proposed $56,389 contract with the Olean YMCA to manage and maintain a new pool being constructed as part of the Olean Middle School renovation.

The board also assigned two matters concerning school property to the Building Committee for further fact-finding.

Board members are scheduled to vote next Tuesday on the YMCA's one-year contract for swimming instruction, lifeguard services for swim team activities, maintenance and administration.

Superintendent Ralph Kerr said the YMCA several years ago was under consideration as a partner with the district, Jamestown Community College and the city in a shared recreational facilities plan -- a proposal that was abandoned.

He said no other organization has been found that is willing to operate the pool.

The proposal was negotiated and reviewed by members of the Curriculum Committee who estimated the approval could save the district about $40,000 a year in maintenance costs.

At the time voters approved construction of the natatorium, those costs were estimated at $160,000 a year.

"This pool is owned by the taxpayers and there is no interest or inclination to give up ownership or control," Kerr told the Board, insisting the contract should not be described as a shared service.

Board Member Marcia L. Pancio said she has received calls from many residents who object to the proposal because of past management problems at the YMCA's pool on South Union Street.

Board member Ira Katzenstein questioned contracting outside services that could be provided by the district's collective-bargaining unit and said YMCA pool workers receive low benefits.

Kerr noted the district has a 30-year association with the YMCA as a contract service provider for swimming classes.

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