District 117 Board: Pre-K playground expansion approved, more admin. spots filled

By Benjamin Cox on July 19, 2018 at 9:32am

The last regular Board of Education meeting before the first day of classes for District 117 students was held last night. The meeting was highlighted by a clarification of the recent series of administrative hires in the District. Also, a bid for what is being considered stage two of the expansion to the Pre-K center playground was accepted.

District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek began the Board of Education meeting by outlining a series of important upcoming events, including Online Registration from the District’s website, jsd117.org, that will run from Tuesday, July 31st until Thursday, August 9th and in-person registration days for all District 117 schools scheduled for the first Thursday and Friday of August, the 2nd and 3rd. In addition, new teacher training will begin on August 9th, and the first day of classes for all students in the district will be Monday, August 20th.

Ptacek says the administrative hiring process is nearly complete, with a need still for an Assistant Principal at Jacksonville High School and a Dean of Students at South Elementary.

“With Mr. Chipman taking the responsibility of being the principal at South Elementary, and Barbie Davidsmeyer embracing the Assistant Special Education Director spot, both of the Assistant Principal positions at JHS have opened. Joey Dion, who has done an excellent job as Athletic Director for JHS, will transition into an Associate Principal position, which calls for more day-to-day leadership role for families and students. With Mr. Dion assuming this role, interviews are being scheduled for an Assistant Principal who would also take on the duties of the Athletic Director. The other Assistant Principal position has been filled by Dan Scott, who last year was the dean of students at South Elementary.”

In addition, Blake Martin will assume the Director of Special Education Services position vacated by Mekelle Neathery, and Celeste Lashmett will become Assistant Principal at Jacksonville Middle School.

Ptacek wants to reassure the community that the Pre-K playground additions are paid for with grants and not taxpayer dollars.

 “We’ve been very fortunate to receive even more money from the state for last fiscal year in early childhood, and with these additional dollars we are able to expand the playground at the new Early Childhood Center and make it much better for our students. We accepted a bid from Neff-Colvin for just over $141,000 for equipment and labor to put further work into what is already an absolutely outstanding playground.”

Ptacek also says that two necessary renovations to JHS will be finished very soon.

“The bleachers are just about done and will be completed in time for the first game of the football season. Once again, the bleachers had to be redone because they were a code violation, and keeping them up would have increased the exposure to taxpayers in a potential lawsuit and exposure to potential injuries. We’re looking forward to a great football season on a gorgeous set of new bleachers. Also, the entire Jacksonville High School roof. The old shingles are being taken off and replaced with new shingles, which has been an absolute need for the high school.”

District Treasurer Jamie Hadjan also explained during the treasurer’s report that the district’s transportation budget allowed for the purchase of three new 72-passenger school buses. The next District 117 Board meeting is on August 22nd in the JHS media room at 7 p.m.