For years, Lyons Township High School has been known as one of the most prestigious education institutions in the state.
And soon it also will be home to three state-of-the-art facilities that will cause even more envy.
After two years of planning, the District 204 Board of Education approved three major facility projects at the school’s south campus. Ground breaking will take place at 3:30 p.m. on March 16 on the lawn outside the South Campus gymnasiums.
“There is a huge demand for indoor recreational facilities, and indoor space is at a premium in the western suburbs,” District 204 Superintendent Dr. Dennis Kelly said. “The new south campus facilities will offer everyone from preschoolers to senior citizens new recreational opportunities, while helping to meet a great community need.”
The new facilities are part of Lyons Township’s Capital Improvement Program, which began two years ago. The project is being funded by $17.4 million in limited tax bonds issued by the school district. While the district increased its debt load with the bond issuance, taxpayers were not hit with a property tax increase.
“The board is only able to undertake these projects, because of its solid financial foothold,” said James Kohlstedt, who is chairman of the board facilities committee. “This board has avoided referendum and tax rate increases. We worked effectively with local governments and have aggressively defended our tax base. There is a lot of credit to be shared, and our students, staff and community will reap the benefits.”
The project, which will cost $15.7 million, will include a six-lane double-length pool, a 42,000-square-foot fieldhouse, and 360-seat theater for performing arts.
After the first round of bids came in more than $4 million over budget, the board decided to accept additional bids, which ended up coming in lower than the first round.
“The district now has the ability to expand programs and curricular offerings,” said Mark Pera, who is the District 204 board president. “We’re able to do this at a time when hundreds of other districts are seeing deficits. This says a lot about our fiscal strength and stewardship.”
According to Jennifer Bialobok, District 204 community relations coordinator, the three new facilities will increase curricular and co-curricular offerings.
Lyons Township’s physical education program will expand to include swimming lessons for all freshmen and sophomores, while also allowing the district to offer a broader variety of activities.
With the unpredictable weather during the spring and fall, the fieldhouse is a much-needed addition. It will allow athletes to practice indoors during inclement weather and provide a place for all school assemblies.
The music, dance and theater programs will have a new venue in which to learn, entertain and perform for school and community events.
Bialobok pointed out that Lyons Township High School continued a cycle of obtaining funds for building improvements and remodeling, while keeping the same annual payments for debt service as in the past. This unique cycle allowed the district to make improvements without increasing the total tax rate.
Recently, there have been major renovations to the music and choral rooms at the north campus. Biology labs, locker replacement and artificial turf for Bennett Field are just some of the other upgrades made since the project began.
The administration is currently planning an official presentation of the new facilities for all staff and members of the community. Additional information about the projects may be found at lths.net.