Prospect High School students could be diving into a pool of their own within a few years, under a proposed capital projects plan for Northwest Suburban High School District 214.
A new aquatic facility for Prospect is one of the projects included in recommendations given to the school board on Thursday for the use of $45 million in surplus reserve funds.
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Swimming pools have been a topic of contention among some parents, especially when District 214 spent millions this summer to renovate the existing Buffalo Grove High School pool rather than build a pool at one of the three high schools without one.
"I'm very excited," said Prospect Principal Michelle Dowling. "What a wonderful possibility to have a new facility like this at Prospect."
Aside from allowing the school's diving, swimming and water polo teams to practice and hold competitions at their home school rather than at neighboring Wheeling High School, Dowling said the pool would be used by all students in physical education classes.
"This will give all out students the opportunity to learn about water safety and basic swim strokes," she said. "We hear so many unfortunate stories about people of all ages who don't have the basic skills in water, so I just think it's a very important life skill."
Dowling said the school would rework its P.E. curriculum to include swimming and maybe lifeguarding or outdoor adventure classes.
Because the project is still pending board approval, officials said they aren't sure where exactly at Prospect the pool would be built, but they said it would be modeled after the new Buffalo Grove pool.
Earlier this month Buffalo Grove debuted its new, 29,750-square-foot natatorium. It has a 40-yard-long, eight-lane pool with a 14.5-foot diving well divided by a movable bulkhead, plus locker rooms, a concessions area and a second-story fan seating area.
The project cost $11 million and took about 18 months to complete. Ted Birren, director of operations, said that would be a starting point for the Prospect High School pool.
Presuming the school board approves the capital projects program Sept. 4, Birren said the district will start meeting with Prospect staff and students to design the pool. The district will likely go out for bids in the winter and start construction in spring or summer of 2015, he said.
Hersey and Rolling Meadows will remain the two District 214 high schools without swimming pools, a fact that officials said is not likely to change anytime soon.
"When looking at the sites of all three buildings, the land just isn't there at Hersey and Meadows," Birren said. Birren couldn't say if the district would have to buy additional property or what would need to be done to make room for a pool at those schools, but those discussions are off the table for now. "At this time, with the amount of land, it just isn't feasible," he said.