Lyons Township High School will receive a $1 million Capital Infrastructure Grant from the state of Illinois that officials there will use to install more air conditioning at the institution’s South Campus in Western Springs.
The grant was announced at the Feb. 16 meeting of the LTHS District 204 Board of Education by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, the top Republican in the Illinois House and a resident of Western Springs. Durkin played a key role in securing the state grant for LTHS.
“I’m always glad to help out and I’m a friend of Lyons Township High School,” Durkin told the school board during the Feb. 16 school board meeting, adding that he is the father of four daughters who all graduated from LTHS.
The $1 million grant will be used to purchase and install a chiller to provide air-conditioning to a portion of the B Wing at South Campus. Once that work is completed, 33 percent of South Campus will be air conditioned.
The exact scope of the project has not been finalized. At least 20 classrooms already outfitted with duct work will be air conditioned once the chiller is purchased and installed. The cost of a chiller is about $1.2 or $1.3 million, according to LTHS Business Manager Brian Stachacz.
Since a chiller usually has to be manufactured to specifications Stachacz said he doesn’t think the chiller will be installed in 2021.
“I don’t think it will happen this summer,” Stachacz said, adding he thought 2022 was more likely. “If we can get it done sooner, we will.”
There are 18 other classrooms in the B Wing that aren’t already outfitted with duct work and are unlikely to be included as part of this grant-funded project..
LTHS has been gradually adding air conditioning in recent years as many have complained about how hot the classrooms are during the first month of the school year.
In the past LTHS had been less successful in obtaining state grants, but the school board has pushed the administration to pursue grants.
“For the last, I want to say, 20 years trying to find alternative funding opportunities in the state has been fairly difficult,” said District 204 Superintendent Tim Kilrea. “We have continuously tried to look and sometimes we wouldn’t qualify for specific grants or capital grants based on certain criteria.
“On this one we were able to have Representative Durkin work on our behalf and to help us and a few other districts in this area in the same capacity so we’re very fortunate there.”
The money has yet to be released to LTHS and Kilrea says that he does not know when LTHS will get the money. It is not certain whether LTHS will buy and install the chiller this summer.