Dist. 117 Moves to Latin Honors, Updates Vision 117 Progress

By Jeremy Coumbes on September 17, 2021 at 10:31am

Jacksonville School District 117 is moving ahead with plans to update both buildings and the way graduates of the high school are ranked.

The District 117 School Board heard an update on progress with the Vision 117 plan during their regular meeting last night. Superintendent Steve Ptacek says things are progressing at multiple locations.

Our architect is working with the engineers and has been working at Washington Elementary and has been finalizing the plans for the Washington project. Our architect has also given us his early thoughts on what it would cost to put air conditioning in the two gyms at Jacksonville High School that currently do not have air conditioning. And we are moving forward with roughly five hundred thousand dollars of needed renovations at Murrayville-Woodson for brick and windows that are required to keep the building functional.”

Prior to the meeting, the board held a public hearing to update on the plan for spending the American Rescue Plan ESSER funds. The District is required to submit a plan for use of the funds to the Illinois State Board of Education within 90 days of receipt.

Plans include updates to HVAC systems at Eisenhower, and North Elementary in ESSER II funds, and updates to HVAC at Washington and the High School as well as windows at Murrayville-Woodson, technology updates across the district, and hotspot installation at the high school.

The funds need to be spent by 2024, so the public was reminded during the hearing that this is a fluid plan that can be subject to change depending on the needs during that time.

Also being updated this year is the way high school graduates will be ranked at graduation.

During the regular meeting, the board approved moving to the Latin Honors System for graduating seniors. Ptacek says the change is aimed at encouraging top students to pick their classes based on their education, not padding a class rank.

We want to promote students taking the most challenging rigorous courses they can, and we have found over the years that the battle for valedictorian or salutatorian, often that placement of first or second can make a difference in what classes the students are choosing. After discussing with some other districts that are going to a Latin Honors System, the laude, magna cum laude and suma cum laude, that if you have a group of them that are honored in different groups that lessens that impact of that challenge on the individual basis of valedictorian or salutatorian.”

Ptacek says students will still be ranked however the move to the Latin System allows for more students to be honored at graduation in the three-tier system, as well as opening the process up as a group which he hopes will inspire those students to take the most challenging courses they can.