By Bob Skolnik
There is a good chance that there will be more than a dozen newly air-conditioned classrooms next year at the South Campus of Lyons Township High School, 4900 S. Willow Springs Road in Western Springs.
At its Nov. 18 meeting, the LTHS school board voted unanimously to solicit bids for unit vents and a chiller that would add air conditioning to much of the B-wing at the South Campus, where freshmen and sophomores attend class. Lyons Township High School serves the village of Brookfield south of Southview Avenue.
Parents, students, and teachers say that the B-wing is one of the most uncomfortable areas of the school on hot days.
An unexpected additional state grant payment as well as more-than-expected revenue from the state's Corporate Personal Property Replacement tax has increased the operating surplus for the 2019 fiscal year to around $1 million, said Jennifer Bialobok, the community relations coordinator for Lyons Township High School District 204.
"We're in a position now where we thought that we could do this step and keep moving forward like we have previously," said Thomas Cushing, the president of the LTHS school board, which has agreed to phase-in air conditioning for the school district instead of doing it all at once.
Some parents have been urging the school board to fully air condition LTHS. Cushing has said that the school board has always planned to add more air conditioning in phases when finances allow.
In addition to getting bids on a chiller, the school board will seek bids for unit vents for eight additional classrooms in the B-Wing. Eight classrooms in the B-Wing already have unit vents, Cushing said. A chiller can cool about 16 classrooms efficiently, according to Cushing.
"It's a good hunk of classrooms to get done," Cushing said.
Cushing said the board will wait before committing to adding air conditioning this summer. He said that he hoped that cost would be around $1 million, or perhaps a little more. Cushing said that if bids are significantly higher than $1 million, the board could choose not to accept any bids and not add air conditioning next summer.
"We're going to see where the bids come in," Cushing said. "We hope that they're appropriate in terms of their price range and we'll just wait and see."
The board will probably decide in February whether to accept any bids for adding air conditioning in the summer of 2020.
The school board already plans to do some roofing and ceiling replacements next summer as well as remodeling the science labs at the district's North Campus in LaGrange.