At the June 26 District 200 school board meeting, the Imagine OPRF Work Group will present its master facility plan proposal. It includes a total demolition of the south end of the building, including the field house, even though OPRF has repeatedly stated that the building is structurally sound. The underlying reason for the proposed demolition is to build a long-stretch pool, 40-yards long by 25-yards wide. 

It’s déjà vu. On Dec. 1, 2014, the Pool Site Committee rejected two same-size pools, described as 37-meters long by 25-yards wide, due to prohibitive costs of $80 and $87 million, respectively.

Imagine’s 40-yard pool, double the size of the pools used in Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state swimming championships, is just 3 meters shy of the 40-meter pool defeated in the 2016 pool referendum. This isn’t surprising as the Imagine subgroup recommending the pool is stacked with big pool supporters. Imagine’s pool has 16 swim lanes, five more than the school’s 11 current lanes which are already a luxury for a high school, according to the 2013 school-commissioned Stantec Report. The “justification” for such a large pool is OPRF’s burdensome and antiquated physical education (P.E.) swimming requirement.

The costs associated with OPRF’s P.E. swimming program are significant, and it’s arguably the most expensive class taught at the school. It’s just common sense to update the self-imposed swimming requirement using evidence-based research and best practices before building a new pool. IHSA competitions typically use 8-lanes and swim laps of 25-yard lengths. This size pool will meet OPRF’s needs once the requirement is updated, according to Stantec and IHSA standards. Compared to other options, this would be the most cost-effective pool solution and can be built in the east pool/south gym space, without demolishing the south end of the building and the field house.

Here are the facts:

 Swimming is not a state requirement; several schools in OPRF’s conference have no pool or swimming requirement. 

 Swimming is the only class that is repeated twice in the school’s P.E. rotation.

 It’s a mandatory program. All students are required to take 18 weeks of swim instruction, with no option to test out. Yet according to OPRF, about 50% of incoming freshmen already know how to swim.

 Other local high schools do not require anything close to 18 weeks of swimming.

 Stevenson High School’s program incorporates the new high school P.E. swim model. All students take the Red Cross swim test and those who pass choose another fitness option. Students who don’t pass the basic-skills test are required to take one session of swimming, from 3 to 6 weeks in length depending on need.

The D200 school board and administration have conducted no known review or update of the burdensome swimming requirement, and the administration reportedly instructed the Imagine group not to consider it in making its recommendations for what is supposed to be a fiscally responsible master facility plan. The time is long overdue to update the costly 90-year-old swimming requirement for the 21st century.

Dori Bernstein, Marty Bernstein, Kitty Conklin, Jack Davidson, Bruce Kleinman, Maureen Kleinman, Amanda Massie, Michael Nevins, Lisa Pearah, Kevin Peppard, Gina Sennello, Monica Sheehan, Doug Springer, Leslie Sutphen

OPRF Pragmatic Solutions 

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