Superintendent Ptacek talks re-boundary process, online presentations

By Blake Schnitker on May 17 at 12:11pm

Significant changes are taking place in Jacksonville School District 117.

It was decided earlier this month that a full-scale, district-wide re-boundary process needed to be done, and thus a committee was formed with the specific tasks of laying out and accomplishing the project’s goals.

On WLDS’ AM Conversation today, Superintendent Steve Ptacek says the committee’s first realization was that all six elementary schools had to stay.

“What we first had to do is understand we do not have the capability to close Murrayville-Woodson. All of our other five schools would need  a minimum of thirteen classrooms plus some other classrooms to house six grade levels, K through 5, two classes per grade level, which would be twelve classrooms but the title room. Our schools barely fit that, North doesn’t even have a full twelve classrooms, but then we have seven district-wide education programs which we would not have place for in a five-school arrangement. So we cannot close Murrayville-Woodson, we cannot go down to five schools,” says Ptacek.

Ptacek says one of the easiest ways for the public to be informed on the re-boundary process is to watch the online presentations.

“A good place to start is vision117.com. I’ve developed a new webpage that is just dedicated to the district-wide boundary process, and it will be updated on a regular basis,” says Ptacek.

He explains how the committee came up with the solution of moving the boundary near Murrayville Elementary and how the numbers break down.

“If we’re going to create a boundary process that’s efficient and equitable across the district, if you can’t close it, you’ve got to fill it. After you take the Franklin Choice and the Lincoln Choice student out, you only had 106 students left in K-5. That’s a very small class average, so the only solution everybody has looked at and can come up with is to move that boundary up north. So that GIS program allows us to draw a new boundary and calculate how many students are in each school, and it came up with 136 totals students south of I-72, and 144 is the goal of 24 per class in a K-5 building,” Ptacek says.

Ptacek also explained that the process will free-up four full-time teachers in the district’s K-5 buildings, who will then be used to provide more elective opportunities for students at the new middle school. Our full interview with Ptacek is available online at WLDS/WEAI.com.

District 117’s regular board meeting is scheduled for tonight at 7.

For a link to the boundary process website, click here.