Unit 4 problem peeks: Centennial's pool
Planning to join Unit 4 officials on a guided tour of Champaign's two public high schools between 9 and 10 a.m. Tuesday? You may want to pack a sweat towel, ear plugs and an extra dose of any medication you take for claustrophobia. Parts of what you're about to see could be hazardous to one's health. The tours will be held on Tuesday mornings between now and Nov. 4, when the district hopes a majority of local voters will sign off on $97.7 million to rebuild Central and $51.3 million to redo Centennial. Here's a sneak preview of what you may see:
Centennial's pool: $141,000-plus in maintenance costs over the past 22 months
If it's Monday morning, that can only mean one thing: the chance of an algae bloom inside the district's only competition pool.
Practices have had to be canceled because of it, says longtime Central coach Will Barker. The culprit: a "really outdated" filter system, which isn't fully automated and occasionally runs out of chlorine over the weekend, resulting in an algae bloom Monday morning, he says.
When that happens, the pool must go through a chlorine shock treatment, which puts it out of commission for 24 hours.
"It's just old," Barker says. "It's worn down."
The combined home of the Chargers and Maroons for parts of six decades, the pool has begun to act its age frequently. Since December 2012, it has required $141,146.91 worth of work — from plumbing to filtration — according to a list of expenses shared with The News-Gazette.
Should voters approve the $149 million ballot question in November, about $7.6 million of it would go toward the construction of a new pool, according to architects' estimates. Only this time, it would be on Interstate Drive — at the new Central.
Barker was hoping the district would upgrade Centennial's pool enough to have two in the district. That's not the plan, though. Putting the pool at Central will free up more room for much-needed classroom space at Centennial, Superintendent Judy Wiegand says.
From the alums
Tips for tourists from three Central graduates:
Watch your step in the theater.
"Oh boy," says Kate Myers ('13). "I think my mom had to come in and fix the curtains every other week, and we always had to wear shoes because splinters from the old wood stage were a definite possibility. I think the best part about the theater was the seating. I would be going to listen to notes and sitting down in a chair where the seat was no longer connected — and would fall right off it."
Avoid the boys locker room.
"Just plain nasty," recalls Drew McMahon ('03), a Central sports hall of famer. "Tile floors that looked like they had been there since the '30s and were a permanent greenish-brown from what looked like 70 years of being the same floor. Windows that you couldn't see out of. And there were three shower heads which progressively got more out of whack the farther down the line you got."
Beware of the top floor.
And be thankful Tuesday's highs will be in the low 80s. "Visit any third-floor classroom," dares Will Sensenbrenner ('97), one of the state's top swimmers before joining his dad's Champaign dental practice. "Try to concentrate in that heat." This time of year, the only Unit 4 school without air-conditioning can be toasty later in the school day — classes have already let out early three times.