May D117 Board Meeting: Hometowns, the hiring of new district staff, sports, and bleacher repair

By Anthony Engle on May 17 at 10:49am

As the school year comes to a close, the managers of School District 117 evoked an air of change in the Media Room of JHS last night. The local Board of Education held their monthly meeting at 7 p.m.

Sarah Raynor has closed the distance of her morning drive. Raynor will no longer be serving as District 117 Director of Curriculum and Instruction. This brought current South Elementary principal Kelly Zoellner into the curriculum director role. Steve Ptacek, Superintendent of District 117, explains Zoellner’s new hiring.

“Sarah has been phenomenal to work with. The easiest way I can say it is, in my entire educational career, Sarah Raynor is one of the five most respectable educators I have worked with. North Mac is her original home school. It’s where she lives, and I know her family lives in that area; I completely respect the choice to go back home. It’s going to be a loss for the district, but I am also very excited to have Kelly Zoellner from South Elementary coming up to fill the vacant spot. Sarah thinks highly of Kelly, they worked together extremely well.”

New Elementary Principal Andrea Lee, recently hired to be North Elementary’s principal, will now serve at South. The North Elementary Principal for 2018-2019 will be Bobbie Mills, and a former employee was also hired at North. Ptacek says the women involved in the hiring and reassignment process were all rewarded.

“Staff interviewed both for the North position. The comment made by one of the staff members after the interviews was, ‘Can we have both of them?’

“We knew Andrea has about thirteen years as a principal in similar grades and is a very well respected administrator. Bringing someone of Andrea Lee’s caliber and experience into the district was our top priority. A week after Andrea was hired, Sarah Raynor let us know that she took the job at North Mac. Kelly Zoellner got the position as the curriculum director, and we knew that we had Bobbie, who the teacher’s thought the world of and were very excited to get her in the district. We’re looking at enrollment of 288 at South and 144 at North for the 2018-’19 school year, and the board and I determined it was best to put the more experienced principal with the larger group of students.”

An unused bylaw that renews itself at the end of every fiscal school year, ending in June, was heard in the Treasurer’s Report and may be able to help the district to upgrade bleachers at Jacksonville High School.

“We found through the code that we’re allowed to, at one time, have the Board transfer some money from the Tort fund into Fund 20, which is our building and ground maintenance fund. Since we have costs for the bleachers coming our way, that’s how we plan for paying for that – out of our Tort fund with this one time transfer. Therefore, it’s not coming out of our educational fund or our annual O & M fund. We have to get this done based upon the inspection, which is done by a state-certified bleacher inspector. It’s not actually going to have an impact to other programs for the community. This was a find by our Financial Officer, Jamie Hadjan, that we were going to be able to transfer that money. We’re not transferring the portion of the Tort Fund TO PAY for this. We CAN transfer the money, therefore that’s how we’re going to accomplish this needed task.”

Ptacek also recognizes that discussions are still in preliminary stages regarding the notion of Jacksonville Middle School offering after-school baseball and softball programs for students in the near future.

“We committed to the community that we were going to look at ways to expand the programs and the offerings for our middle schoolers. We’re doing that with several academic programs and fine-arts programs. Since I’ve been here, I’ve questioned why we do not have junior high baseball and softball programs. I simply brought the board the opportunity to explore it this evening: estimated costs, what conferences would look like, what scheduling would look like. Of course, it’s too late in the year to set that up for the fall of 2018.”

Other topics included the official School Board recognition of many students, including the FFA Meat Judging team which won the IHSA State competition, which were postponed until the next and final meeting of the fiscal year due to the Honors Banquet also held yesterday evening. The board did acknowledge JHS’s Tim Chipman, who was recently named as the Illinois Principal’s Association’s Assistant Principal of the year.

District 117’s evidence based funding was declared at roughly $309,000 for this year, though that number was offset by mention of possible increase of teacher salary minimums, in reference to education legislation filed by Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill.

Both halves of South Elementary, built in 1949 and 1955, need moisture mitigation for flooring in the process of renovations at the school. Total accepted bids for services from JohnCo Construction of Mackinaw, Illinois are $63,300.

District 117 Board meetings are usually held the third Wednesday of the month in the Jacksonville High School Media Room, with Committee of the Whole at 6 p.m. and regular meeting at 7 p.m.