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posted: 3/20/2012 4:14 PM

District 128 swimming pool repairs approved

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After months of planning and revisions, Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 officials have received permission to proceed with federally mandated safety upgrades at Vernon Hills High's pool.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has given the district a green light to move forward with plans to improve the drain system at that pool, local officials announced in a news release Tuesday.

Additionally, the department has tentatively approved similar plans for the Libertyville High School pool, District 128 officials said. Those plans still need formal approval.

Along with other schools, gyms and hotels throughout the state, District 128 officials were required to replace unsafe pool drains with devices that meet safety standards by October 2011.

The upgrades were mandated by a 2007 federal law and regulations added to Illinois' books in 2010. The law was a response to children who died or were seriously injured after being trapped underwater by drain suction.

But top District 128 administrators were not aware of the deadline until last summer because of a communications gaffe.

In September, District 128 officials said they would close the pools if they couldn't get them repaired by the deadline, but the state health department extended the repair window for the district until June 1.

Superintendent Prentiss Lea thanked the health department staff for working to resolve the problem.

"The (health department) team has gone above and beyond in reviewing compliance submissions, in communicating and providing timely and essential feedback for revisions and in demonstrating an excellent partnership in working toward compliance," Lea said in the news release. "We are very grateful for their efforts on our behalf."

School administrators now will seek bids to repair the Vernon Hills High pool. A special board meeting will be held Thursday, April 5, to award the job to a contractor.

The work should take up to 10 days to complete, officials said.

As for the Libertyville High pool, District 128 officials are sending necessary documents to the state health department this week. Once the plan receives formal approval, the bidding process will follow.

The repairs could cost as much as $125,000, officials estimated last year.

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