District Mulls $6.3M Athletic Facility Improvements

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Chicago Daily Herald


The Round Lake Area Unit School District 116 board members are considering spending around $6.3 million to improve the district's "subpar" athletic facilities and could make their final decision as soon as this month. District staff members and outside architects studied the facilities over the summer and presented their findings to the board at a special meeting Monday night. The group, called the athletic design committee, outlined six projects for the board to consider.

According to the athletic design committee, many facilities pose safety concerns, limit participation and require significant attention. The panel estimates the cost of all six would be around $6.7 million. "We're not trying to go from good to great at these facilities," Superintendent Donn Mendoza said before the meeting. "We're trying to go from subpar and sometimes unsafe to adequate."

Board members indicated they were interested in funding four of the six projects, all of which are on the high school campus. The projects include doing extensive work at the football and soccer stadium, resodding rocky practice fields, building new tennis courts and rehabbing the concession and athletic storage buildings. The work to the stadium that the committee recommended is estimated to cost $3.3 million.

The field is uneven and cracks in its surface pose risks for athletes. The running track around the field is about 20 years old and is so worn down that sections can be lifted off the ground, school officials say. And because it is wide enough for only six lanes, it cannot be used to host larger invitationals. The bleachers that surround the stadium were built in the 1960s and don't comply with the American with Disabilities Act.

The stadium lighting was built in the 1980s and, like other parts of the stadium, are under near-constant repair, officials said. The topic of fixing the athletic facilities has surfaced in part because of a recent cash injection. In April, Round Lake 116 received about $5.8 million from the state's new "Evidence-Based Funding" model, which lawmakers approved in August 2017.

Because the money arrived so late last school year, the school board decided to use the money mainly for one-time expenses. So far, the most notable expense funded by the state money is the $643,585 plan to complete flood damage repairs at Murphy Elementary School and add preventive measures. The board is expected to vote on which projects it wishes to fund at the Oct. 22 meeting.

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October 2, 2018


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