District 128 board favors starting on Libertyville High School pool

  • The Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 school board on Monday informally decided to pursue plans to replace the pool at Libertyville High School.

    The Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 school board on Monday informally decided to pursue plans to replace the pool at Libertyville High School. Courtesy of District 128

  • Libertyville High School girls varsity swim team practices Tuesday. The Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 board has informally agreed to replace the pool.

    Libertyville High School girls varsity swim team practices Tuesday. The Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 board has informally agreed to replace the pool. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville High School girls varsity swim team practices. District 128 school board officials are leaning toward replacing the pool, which was built in 1971.

    Libertyville High School girls varsity swim team practices. District 128 school board officials are leaning toward replacing the pool, which was built in 1971. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • The Libertyville High School girls varsity swim team practices Tuesday. The District 128 school board has informally approved replacing the pool.

    The Libertyville High School girls varsity swim team practices Tuesday. The District 128 school board has informally approved replacing the pool. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/1/2016 10:34 PM

A new pool for Libertyville High School could be on the horizon with the informal agreement Tuesday by school officials to proceed.

Members of the Libertyville-Vernon Hills Areas High School District 128 board polled at the end of a work session were in general agreement the project was needed and now was the best time to proceed, despite concerns regarding spending years down the road.

 

"We do have the money only in reserves; we're not taking the money out of operating funds. I'm all in favor of going ahead with the pool," said board member Ellen Mauer.

"We won't see another opportunity like were seeing now," added Jim Batson, board vice president.

In the lag since the project first came up, the total costs increased substantially from about $20 million to $23.3 million. Besides inflation, the increase included changes in the air handling system and an estimate of $1 million in village fees, among other factors.

The board based its tentative agreement on having that cost trimmed to $21.5 million, and engineering consultants will be working on the numbers. No official decisions were made, but Tuesday's meeting was held to give the board a final look before bringing the issue to a conclusion, board President Pat Groody said.

"This is our time to dig in and get the final pieces before we bring we bring it to a vote," he said. The next regular meeting of the school board is Nov. 14.

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The board also will have to determine whether to use reserves or a combination of reserves and borrowing, or ask voters to approve a tax hike. Going to referendum specifically for the pool project was informally rejected by a majority of the board. The district has about $72 million in reserves.

"From a referendum standpoint, there are bigger and broader questions we need to address before we go to voters," such as enrollment patterns and other capital needs, Groody said.

Spending concerns were raised this summer as the board considered a budget for the current fiscal year. At the time, board member Alex Delli Paoli Jr. said reserves could be depleted to an unacceptable level within about seven years. That window could shrink by two or three years if the pool project is built, he said Tuesday.

Money for a new swimming pool at Libertyville High School and a second gym at Vernon Hills High School were included in the $98.3 million spending plan. In October, the board shelved a $7 million expense for the second gym, dance studio and other amenities at Vernon Hills.

The LHS pool, which has six lanes and a diving board, was built in 1971. Information on the district's website showed there were about 3,100 users each week, compared with 2,000 users per week at the VHHS pool. A new pool would enhance programs, accommodate more athletes, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of practices and allow for future growth, according to the district.

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