8 Points Charter’s future in serious jeopardy

By Ryne Turke on October 21, 2015 at 10:41pm

District 117 board members have authorized Superintendent Steve Ptacek to prepare a resolution of non-renewal for 8 Point Charter School’s contract.

The busy night started with parents, teachers and students packing the Jacksonville High School Media Center to show their support for 8 Points Charter. For over an hour board members listened to stories about the positive programs and experiences at 8 Points Charter.

Later in the night, Ptacek shared a detailed presentation that broke down the cost/benefit analysis of the 8 Point Charter contract renewal. Ptacek noted he had “an obligation to the taxpayers” to determine the cost of resources, effectiveness of programs and impact of the organization.

Ptacek talks about why he recommended not supporting a contract renewal with 8 Points Charter.

After Ptacek’s presentation, the future of 8 Points Charter’s ties to District 117 was left in the hands of the board members. For nearly 30 minutes board members went back and forth on what action should be taken.

Board member Cheryl Ballard took some time to highlight the positive qualities 8 Points Charter provides and even went as far to state, “we have a jewel here, why are we throwing it away?”

8 Points Charter School Leader Bridget English was very vocal throughout the night, defending her school and pointing out several times that the school had only been open four years and needed time to develop.

The first motion made, which would have tabled the contract renewal until legal counsel was present, was not approved by the board. Another motion, which would allow the board to enter contract negotiations with 8 Points Charter, also failed to receive enough votes.

The accepted motion, which received “no” votes from Ballard and Steve Cantrell, passed 4-2-1. Corinne Wagner elected to “abstain” from voting.

Ptacek says this was a hard decision for the board to make and he respects the work 8 Points Charter’s students and teachers put forth.

To absorb the 114 students at 8 Points Charter, District 117 would have to hire two elementary teachers and one special education teacher.

Ptacek hopes to have the paperwork finished by the November meeting.