District 117 Board Discusses possible Pre-K grant

By Blake Schnitker on February 16 at 9:37am

A potential state grant for the Pre-K program was among several items discussed at last night’s District 117 meeting.

According to Superintendent Steve Ptacek, the district is likely to receive the competitive bid for a state grant for their Pre-K program this summer.

Ptacek explains, however, it’s vital that the Board is prepared for the rare case in which the program is not awarded that bid.

“The Pre-K grant is up for the competitive bid process this summer and that is for the state to pay the Pre-K money starting in the fall of 2017. We have to discuss whether we are willing to risk paying for the Pre-K program next year out of district funds, which we’re talking somewhere around $800,000, if the rare event happened that we were not issued the Pre-K award for next year,” says Ptacek.

Ptacek says while the district still expects to get the grant, a number of complications could arise if that money isn’t received.

“We’ve got tremendous people involved with writing the grant, but it is a discussion I have to have with the Board because, in a situation where this grant would be unknown, you would go through a riff process of having to release the staff members who are being paid by the grant to wait for the grant to be confirmed, then bring them back. But Pre-K teachers are in such a need right now that I’m talking to the Board about the reality that could be a really scary situation we’re in if we have to go through with that,” explains Ptacek.

Ptacek explains that it’s necessary that the Board is prepared for certain contingencies.

“If the Board decided not to release any Pre-K teachers or aides, and we did not get the grant, the Board needs to know that it would be committing to paying $800,000 for a year to pay for those services,” says Ptacek.

Other action at last night’s meeting included a lengthy discussion over dress code policies for the high school, junior high and elementary schools. Ptacek also says he hopes to continue informing the public about the issues faced by the Board in regards to future planning.