JSD117 Board approves platform lift for JHS Bowl

By Benjamin Cox on May 16, 2019 at 10:56am

The District 117 Board of Education is working to make the JHS Bowl ADA compliant.

The Americans with Disabilities Act became law to protect equal rights of Americans with mental or physical limitations. President George W. H. Bush signed the ADA in 1990.

The first full meeting for Heather Leonard and Bob McBride as members of the District 117 Board of Education last night included many topics. One of which was purchasing either a platform lift or elevator for installation at the Bowl.

In the end the Board decided that the Platform Lift would establish standards to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act without spending too much money on the project.

District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek explains the debate in this regard.

“The elevator would have been a $300,000 investment. The platform lift costs $125,000. The main difference between the two is the maximum weight capacity. The elevator, for example, would have allowed maintenance staff to take a scissor lift down to the basketball floor for easier replacement of lights or work on the scoreboard. It wasn’t worth the extra $175,000 investment just to have that capability when the scissor lift itself is much cheaper than that, and if we really needed one we could just buy a scissor lift and keep it there on the basketball floor. We also have new LED lights. We’re changing lights far less often than we used to. But why are we spending the money at all?

Ptacek answers that question, and how it pertains to the District and all of its students.

“The board strongly agreed that the Bowl needs to become a handicap-accessible location. We do have students that have mobility issues. In answering to the needs of those and all students, as well as the legal requirements of the ADA, we want to allow all students access to the floor. We have students who have that need in things like chorus, band, and sign language students when they sign the national anthem. Our bowl is currently very limiting for students, and frankly anyone, with accessibility issues. This changes that.”

Ptacek describes two potential legal issues that led to the Board’s platform lift decision.

“The board strongly believes that $125,000 investment is worth it. It this is the right thing to do in answering to our students. For those who don’t understand that concept, we are in a time where if someone files a special education or handicap accessibility due process lawsuit against us, it would almost definitely cost us more than $125,000 just in legal fees. They could result in telling us that one needs to be put in at the end of the lawsuit. There could also be an injunction filed to using that as a facility in the meantime, because we had the ability to get this done. Putting in a platform lift for the JHS Bowl is not only the right thing to do, but also the economically smart thing to do.”

The installation will be performed by RD Lawrence Construction out of Springfield. The money to pay for the platform lift was taken out of Bond Sale monies that have been designated by the Board for projects such as this one.