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Statement from the D86 Board of Education about the Pool Project at Hinsdale Central

During our meeting on Thursday, September 12, the members of the District 86 Board of Education directed the administration to proceed with plans for a pool at Hinsdale Central that is 10 lanes measuring 40 yards in length. We want to thank the members of our Facilities Committee, as well as our vendors and consultants, for their hard work and due diligence on this issue. We also want to thank the nearly 90 people who shared their thoughts about this topic following our meeting on August 22. The feedback we received from the community and Facilities Committee, coupled with the data and research provided by our vendors and consultants, played a critical role in this decision, as well as the one we made about the pool project at Hinsdale South (the plan for South is to build a pool that is six lanes measuring 40 yards in length).

We recognize that the direction we provided on the pools is a departure from what was discussed in the months leading up to the April referendum. We also understand that it might raise questions about the impact it may have on the other projects we have planned, or the money we have allocated to pay for them. With this in mind, we want to reaffirm our intent to complete the work at both schools on time and on budget, and provide insight into how we came to the decision about the pools.

When making decisions about capital investments, our Board always seeks to strike a balance between doing what is best for our schools and students and being sound fiscal stewards of the financial resources that the community has entrusted us to manage. In the case of these specific projects, our department chair for physical education, various industry experts and most of the community members we heard from told us that they believe the best short- and long-term solution for our schools is to build pools that are not only aligned to the size of our student populations, but are also better equipped to meet the instructional and extra-curricular needs of the children we serve. Based on this input and the information we received from our Facilities Committee, we selected the 10x40 option for Central and the 6x40 option for South.

In terms of our commitment to fiscal stewardship, we believe the direction we chose for the pools is prudent for a few reasons. First, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that the cost of our Future Ready Facilities work does not exceed $139,815,983, which represents the total budget for all of our projects that we communicated in conjunction with the referendum. This commitment has not and will not change based on the increased estimate for the pools. We also will not fund these two projects at the expense of the students, staff or programs at either school. Instead, we will continue to explore savings and efficiencies that we can achieve through the planning, design and construction phases of our work. For example, in the information they shared with the Board on September 12, representatives from Pepper Construction, ARCON and Cotter Consulting discussed how we could potentially save more than $1.2 million on the pool project at Central by relocating mechanical equipment to the roof and reducing the size of the storage space and equipment room.

Second, the decisions we make in conjunction with our Future Ready Facilities plans must be forward thinking. For example, the average life of the pools we are building is 50 years. By making the necessary investment in them now, we can more effectively address our needs, and also avoid creating instructional and financial issues that would negatively impact future students, staff, families and community members.

Third, as we mentioned in the August 23 edition of Board Briefs, there are several cost and operational challenges associated with the pool option that was proposed during the referendum, including:

  • The cost of installing ($1,032,000), maintaining ($10,000 annually) and replacing (75% of initial cost) the movable floors
  • The breakdown of the movable floors at critical times that would disrupt learning and events
  • The limited number of firms with the knowledge and expertise to install, repair and replace movable floors

Based on these challenges, we concluded that investing in this option would be a poor and short-sighted decision.

Lastly, when it comes to our facilities, we believe it is critical to utilize an equity lens when making decisions. This means that, while there may be situations where we can make similar improvements and upgrades to our buildings, there are others, such as the pools, where factors like enrollment will help drive the development and implementation of our plans.

While the conversations about our Future Ready Facilities plans are just beginning, we are pleased with the progress we have made to date, and are excited about the work we have ahead of us. We will continue to have these conversations at our Board meetings going forward, and hope you can join us either in person or via the livestream video of our sessions. We are also working with our staff, vendors and consultants to set up the various channels and platforms we will use to provide the community with updates on the progress of our work. We will share this information when it is available. In the meantime, we want to thank you for your time and attention to this message, for your partnership on our efforts to improve our facilities, and for your continued support of our schools and the students we serve.