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updated: 11/23/2011 4:14 PM

State's decision on District 128 pools expected soon

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  • Prentiss Lea

    Prentiss Lea

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A decision on safety-improvement plans for the swimming pools at Libertyville and Vernon Hills high schools is expected within the next week or two, District 128 Superintendent Prentiss Lea said Wednesday.

Repairs are needed because the pools' drains don't meet relatively new state and federal safety standards.

If Illinois Department of Public Health officials approve the plans, District 128 leaders will get construction permits, hire a contractor and begin work, Lea said. If the plans are rejected, they will get detailed feedback from state engineers so they can revise the plans and meet the safety standards, he said.

"Obviously we're going to do everything we can to make those corrections to the plan," Lea said.

A federal law requiring potentially dangerous drains to be replaced with safer models was adopted in 2007, and a 2010 state law established an Oct. 1 deadline.

Lea and other top District 128 officials were unaware of the deadline until this summer, however.

District 128 officials rushed a repair plan to the state after learning of the deadline, but it was rejected. The current proposal is the district's second.

The pools were briefly shut down in early October when the deadline passed, forcing girls swim teams and a community program to relocate.

The pools reopened later in the month after health department officials agreed to give the district until June 1, 2012, to make the mandated repairs.

Students and community members have continued using the pools without incident.

District officials submitted the latest plans to the health department in September. With hundreds of pools around the state needing repairs, officials were told to expect a four- to eight-week turnaround time.

"We're in the queue," Lea said.

Repairing the two pools could cost as much as $125,000, officials have said.

District 128 board member Alex Delli Paoli Jr. is optimistic about the proposal.

"We admittedly had a rough start," Delli Paoli said. "I feel like both parties are on the same page now. It's just a matter of us executing."

The girls swim teams' season has ended and the boys teams' meets have begun, Lea said. The community swim program continues during the winter, too.

Lea praised the various teams' coaches for "seamlessly" getting back into the aquatic routine despite the temporary pool shutdowns.

"Everyone was very excited to get back into the pools," he said.

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