By the beginning of the 2005-06 school year, all five gymnasiums in District 96 will be outfitted with automated external defibrillators (AEDs), in compliance with an Illinois state law requiring AEDs to be available in all physical fitness facilities.

Although the law, which came into effect in January and is commonly known as the Colleen O’Sullivan Law, does not require public school districts to provide AEDs for all of its facilities until July 2009, District 96 Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Lamberson said the school board had decided to purchase all five machines at once in order to provide the same level of safety to all of the district’s schools.

“There was a possibility to allow a phase-in period,” he said, “but the board?”and I support them fully on this?”took the position that if it’s in the public interest, let’s just get it as soon as possible.”

Lamberson said the district would buy the AEDs through a cooperative purchase organized by the Cook County Regional Office of Education, for a total of $7,000. He did not know how much AEDs would normally cost, but said the prices they received through the county were “steeply discounted.”

Lamberson added that the state law requiring AEDs was an unfunded mandate, meaning the district would not receive any financial assistance from the state to help pay for the new machines. Therefore, in order to partially alleviate these costs Lamberson said the district would be asking for donations from organizations that currently use the facilities. For example, the district requested $250 from the Brookfield Recreation Department, which uses one of the District 96 gyms for summer classes.

“Because the defibrillators would be available at all times, we felt it would be an appropriate request to make since they would also have access to the machines,” Lamberson explained.

Once the AEDs are in place, faculty members will be trained on how to use the machines. Lamberson said training will also be available to representatives from any other organizations using the facilities.