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New wheelchair-friendlier bleachers coming to D230

All three District 230 high schools will get new gymnasium bleachers this year to comply with the latest federal mandates for public accommodation of persons with disabilities.

The bleachers, fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), will be replaced on the main floor and balcony in the gyms at both Andrew, in Tinley Park, and Sandburg, in Orland Park.

At Stagg, only the bleachers on the main floor of the gym in Stagg will be replaced, because the Palos Hills school received new balcony bleachers in 2005.

Members of the school board agreed at their meeting last Thursday to accept a bid of $732,790 from Carroll Seating Co. to do the work. Bob Hughes, facilities director for the district, explained that only a few companies do this type of work, and the other company invited to bid, Larson Equipment & Furniture Co., offered $737,500.

Both bids came in lower than the $820,000 budgeted for the bleacher-replacement program. The work will likely be done during summer break.

“We have worked with Carroll Seating several times in the past on our locker room renovation projects, and their work was finished on time and within our budget,” Hughes told the school board.

            The new bleachers use individual plastic seat modules instead of traditional wooden, “blank” seats, and comply fully with new ADA codes, Hughes said. The bleachers will also have their own electric traction motors allowing them to be opened or closed with a hand-held controller.

            Asked what the new ADA codes are, Hughes said they include having railings at the proper heights on each side of aisles, which will also be wider.

               Superintendent Dr. James Gay pointed out also that individual sections of bleachers will also be able to retract to make room for wheelchair seating.

            Also at the meeting, the school board recognized Andrew Principal Bob Nolting for being named Illinois High School Principal of the Year by the Illinois Principals Association. He will now be under consideration for the national award.

“It is really a recognition for the school, so for Andrew it is good,” Nolting said afterward. “It is a big school, but not so big that as principal, you cannot take time to get to know the students,” he added.

Nolting, a Lockport resident, joined District 230 in 2004, as associate principal of Andrew. He then moved to Sandburg, where he held the same position, from 2006 to 2009. He came back to Andrew as principal in 2009.

Earlier in his career, he was social studies teacher and athletics/activities director in Wisconsin. He currently serves as the District 3 representative on the IHSA Board of Control.

The Andrew principal said he was most touched by what a former student, one of three people who nominated him, said in a letter of recommendation. In part, the student said, ““Mr. Nolting is more than a principal, he is a man with an unconditional loving heart for his students and staff, and he is a glow of confidence and an inspiration to better yourself in every way.”

“It’s pretty cool to hear those words,” said Nolting.

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