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updated: 9/27/2011 3:10 PM

Dist. 128 pools need extensive repairs

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  • District 128 Superintendent Prentiss Lea

      District 128 Superintendent Prentiss Lea

  • Video: News report on drain safety

  • Video: Underwater drain replacement

 
 

Despite an in-person sitdown with state health officials, the pools at Libertyville and Vernon Hills high schools likely will close Saturday because of safety issues, District 128 Superintendent Prentiss Lea said Monday night.

And that wasn't the only bad news Lea delivered to the District 128 board during its meeting at Vernon Hills High.

The needed repair work -- involving the replacement of potentially dangerous drains -- is more significant than administrators expected and will be much more expensive, Lea said. The pricetag could be as much as $125,000, up from $6,000 or $8,000, Lea said.

As a result, the work will need to follow governmental bidding procedures, which will further extend the process.

The only upside Lea shared Monday night is that he and the district's engineers now better know what is needed to make the pools compliant with the law. He called fixing the pools "our highest priority right now."

Lea spoke to the board about the pool situation hours after returning from a meeting in Springfield with engineers and lawyers from the Illinois Department of Public Health, which is tasked with ensuring public pools are equipped with safer pool drains as required by state and federal law.

Top District 128 administrators were aware of the law, but didn't know about the Oct. 1 deadline until this summer because of an internal communications breakdown, Lea has said.

If the pools close as planned, school swim teams will have to train and compete at other locations. The pools also will be off-limits to students in physical education classes, participants community swimming programs and anyone else.

State lawmakers lobbying for District 128 have asked the health department to grant Libertyville High, Vernon Hills High or any other noncompliant schools extensions to get the work done, but that request hasn't been granted.

Lea said he remains hopeful "common sense prevails" and that a solution can be found.

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