Back To School Preview: Morgan County

By Ryne Turke on August 18, 2016 at 1:07pm

With summer in the books and classrooms filling up with teachers and students, WLDS-WEAI News is taking a closer look at each school district in West Central Illinois.

The first report of our three part series breaks down the school’s of Morgan County, including Jacksonville School District 117, Routt Catholic High School, Franklin School District, Waverly School District and Meredosia-Chambersburg School District.

Most of the headlines this year involving District 117 have revolved around construction at Turner Junior High and Lincoln Elementary. Superintendent Steve Ptacek says the construction projects are just a fraction of the big changes happening in Jacksonville this school year.

“Three of our elementary schools will house Dean of Students. They will split between two elementary schools. We have extra administration help at the junior high. By doing that, we are going to free our building principals to be educational leaders in their buildings, not just dealing with student issues. We have been working with our curriculum to get more clearly defined learning objectives and been working on common assessments. I’m very excited about the wonderful staff we’ve got and what they will bring to our kids,” says Ptacek.

District 117’s theme has transitioned from “The Year We Build” in 2015 to “Taking Flight” in 2016.

Ptacek says District 117 will be “jumping up their game to the next level” this year to provide students with better facilities and greater resources.

Routt Catholic High School Principal Nicholas Rosetti credits the school’s enrollment increase to the freshman class made up of 44 incoming students.

Rosetti says Routt started school on Monday with 132 students, the highest number the school has had in years.

In terms of athletics, Roscetti says the new softball field at the Bob Freesen YMCA, a joint project between Routt and Our Saviour, has been a big success over summer.

As for what’s going on in the classroom…

“We are able to offer a few more duel credit classes through Lincoln Land Community College. That gives our kids opportunities for college credit. We also want to focus on our academics and the spiritual nature of the school. We want Routt to be a welcoming place for everyone and we want to maintain that,” says Roscetti.

Franklin Superintendent Andy Stremlau feels positive about the upcoming school year, which starts on Wednesday.

Stremlau is confident the near 300 students and handful of new teachers will bring a “fresh perspective” to the district.

Stremlau hopes Franklin can build on the success established last year in the sports-cooperative with Waverly School District.

“It has been a wonderful addition for our student athletes. We knew they would take to it in a positive fashion. It was nice to have the community support of Franklin and Waverly. It was just what we were hoping for,” says Stremlau.

Waverly Superintendent Dustin Day agreed the co-op was a big success last year. Day says shared classes between the high schools led to a closer connection between players on the court.

Day hopes the eight new teachers in the district can continue the proud tradition of education in Waverly.

“It’s certainly a large city education in a small town feel. We have extremely low class sizes and we do that on purpose. We make sure the kids get the services and education they deserve. We put forth our best foot forward and see to it that all kids reach their potential,” says Day.

Enrollment at Waverly is 326 K-12 students. Several construction projects are on the radar for Waverly, including the replacement off dated roofs.

The first day of class for Waverly is Wednesday.

Thad Walker is entering his first year as Superintendent for Meredoisa-Chambersburg. The former Winchester principal hopes to bring “leadership”, address curriculum issues and provide the best education for students.

Walker says transitioning the 196 pre K-12 students into the same building will be the biggest challenge for Meredoisa-Chambersburg this year.

“We all moved into the same building. They closed the elementary school, so this is the first year we are all in the high school building. The last two years they have done a lot of renovations to move over. The transition of getting everybody to work together, sharing a cafeteria and two gyms for pre K-12 will be a challenge. This morning went well though,” says Walker.

Updated bathrooms in the teacher’s lounge should be finished by the end of the month. Walker hopes to improve the parking lot and drive way next year.

Walker says the staff has a “new feel” with seven teachers entering the district.

Our back to school series continues tomorrow morning with a recap of schools from Cass and Scott Counties.