District 117 looks at plans for South Elementary, test scores at last night’s meeting

By Blake Schnitker on November 15 at 7:18am

The latest architectural plans for South Elementary School and standardized test results were the main topics of discussion at last night’s District 117 Board meeting.

District 117 also held a Committee of the Whole meeting prior to the start of the regular meeting last night. The committee of the whole meeting featured updates on construction and renovation around the district. This included a detailed site plan presentation from Graham and Hyde regarding South Jacksonville Elementary School.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek says Graham and Hyde is very familiar with building, and shares his thoughts on how the board felt about the latest mock ups.

“The Board is very excited about the design that Graham and Hyde have made for South Elementary, they’ve been working on that building for quite a while and they really understood the limitations that the building has. The arrangement in the building that you currently have, you have to go through the gymnasium to go to the cafeteria or go to the media center. Then there are some spaces that we need to rearrange to provide more special education rooms and title service rooms, along with such a small front office for the Principal and Dean of Students…all of (those limitations) are answered (in the plan),” Ptacek explains.

At the regular meeting, the Board went over the recent report on the 2016-2017 Report Card data of test scores for schools throughout Illinois. Superintendent Ptacek talks about how District 117’s Report Card data stacked up against scores from around the state.

“I think the one thing with the PARCC testing right now is that it’s so difficult to make that district to district comparison, that state’s not been very consistent with it’s PARCC feedback and now we know that the differences between students who take the written test and the students who take the test online or on a computer are drastically different. Given all of that, it’s very difficult to make a comparison of the district across the state, but, in that situation, I don’t think there are any warning bells going off, but definitely not exactly very excited about the scores either,” says Ptacek.

Also at last night’s meeting, the Board approved the schematic design for South Elementary presented to them by Graham and Hyde. Board members also formed a new committee to study bus routes for Jacksonville Middle School, and approved the addition of some safety measures, such as hand rails, at the JHS Bowl.