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updated: 2/27/2011 8:53 PM

Mundelein High officials unveil wish-list building projects

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  • Business Manager Gary Lonquist points out the shallowness of the pool at Mundelein High School, one of the repair projects that is part of the April 5 referendum.

       Business Manager Gary Lonquist points out the shallowness of the pool at Mundelein High School, one of the repair projects that is part of the April 5 referendum.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Replacng single-pane windows in the 50-year-old section of Mundelein High School is one of the repair projects on the April 5 ballot.

       Replacng single-pane windows in the 50-year-old section of Mundelein High School is one of the repair projects on the April 5 ballot.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Video: What they want

 
 

As they prepare to ask voters to borrow $10 million for building improvements, Mundelein High School administrators have unveiled a shortlist of projects that would be funded with the cash, and cost estimate for each of them.

Roofing repairs, the construction of a new running track and the installation of artificial turf on the football field are among the priority projects on the administration's list, Superintendent Jody Ware and Business Manager Gary Lonquist told the Daily Herald.

Officials also want to replace single-pane windows in the oldest part of the school, upgrade bathrooms and the electrical system and deepen part of the indoor pool to make it safer for competitive swimmers.

Ware and Lonquist recently spoke to a reporter and a representative of the Daily Herald's editorial board about the financial proposal, which will be decided by voters April 5.

The proposal would raise $10 million over three years by extending the district's debt. It would not increase the district's tax rate, officials have promised.

If approved, the loan will be repaid by 2017. At that point, the tax rate would drop, officials have said.

A community group recommended more than $80 million worth of improvements two years ago, but funding all that work would require a tax increase, officials have said.

To avoid that, officials have split projects into tiers and have identified those they deem the most critical.

During the meeting at the Daily Herald's Lake County office, Ware and Lonquist talked about:

•Roofing repairs, which could cost $1.1 million.

•Replacing 50-year-old windows, which could cost $1.5 million.

•Upgrading the electrical system, which could cost $320,000.

•Modernizing bathrooms and plumbing, which could cost $450,000.

•Repairing and deepening the pool, which could cost $1.5 million.

•Replacing the outdoor track and football field, which could cost $1.6 million.

"All of these projects are of high importance," Ware said.

The track is in such poor shape, the school can no longer host competitions, Ware said.

"It's dangerous," she said.

Some area schools, including Libertyville and Vernon Hills high schools, have turned to the community to raise funds for artificial-turf fields. When asked whether that route was considered, Lonquist said corporate sponsorship can be a fundraising tool, but it's also an independent variable.

District leaders are open to various funding options, Ware said.

The other athletic project on the list, the improvements to the pool, are partially safety related. A national swimming federation has said the pool is too shallow near the starting blocks, so officials want to increase the depth there from 3 feet to at least 5 feet.

Ventilation improvements are needed in the pool area, too. Officials have applied for a state grant of about $320,000 to help pay for that work.

Voters haven't approved a Mundelein High financial request since 1995. If this proposal is rejected, the work simply won't get done, Lonquist said.

The needs will not change, however, Ware said.

An opposition group has not surfaced. One Mundelein High board member, Vicky Kennedy, opposed putting the question on the ballot when the panel voted last month, saying there wasn't enough time to effectively spread the word about the projects.

Ware said if the plan is approved, the district will have three years to spend the money. Roof repairs could be done first, as soon as this summer.

Other efforts will require more planning, he added.

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