District 117 committee looking at several approaches to re-boundary process

By Gary Scott on June 29, 2017 at 7:50am

The Jacksonville School District 117 Committee on elementary school boundaries took some initial steps in the overall process last night.

The committee’s main goal was to look at a “layered approach” for South Elementary School, as well as the number of students that each school would need to have in order to fit the district’s current 14-hundred elementary students.

As a group, the committee coordinated to draw the entire boundary map out in a preliminary attempt to gauge the number of students in each school.

District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek explains the “layer approach” and the difference between this approach and the “block approach.”

“This whole project is kind of like a big game of Tetris…you look at our school boundaries and you start trying to fill in. We’re starting from the bottom-up, Murrayville-Woodson is the obvious choice of where to fit a boundary, then South (Elementary) came next. There’s two possible ways to take South (elementary), one is to go west along Morton into the current Eisenhower area, and the other option is to take South (Elementary) north of Morton into what was once the Franklin area. At that point and time, that would have a domino effect on all of the other boundaries of the remaining schools. So we decided to dedicate a night where we did a ‘layered’ South approach, which is taking South down along Morton to the west, and we finished that tonight,” says Ptacek.

Ptacek tells us what it means to have the input and feedback from staff members who are a part of the boundary process committee.

“We’ve got administrators, staff members, Central Office personnel on the board, and everyone’s looking at this from a unique perspective. The educators are looking at it more from not just class size and enrollment numbers, but things such as the at-risk factor students, socio-demographic factors, and they bring that to the table in a way the board might not necessarily think about. The board is thinking about responding to the community needs, and the community that wants as little change as possible, and it’s prompted tremendous dialogue,” says Ptacek.

Ptacek explains what the committee is looking to discuss in future meetings.

“We decided tonight we’re going to come back on (July) 12th and do a draft of a block scenario, then we’re going to have another meeting in July. We’re going to bring back both of those drafts. I’m going to do an analysis of the socio-economic changes…other forms of data analysis such as, in each of the scenarios, what’s the percentage of the changing of schools community-wide. Then we bring all of those data points back together, then the board will decide maybe to tweak either of the scenarios,” Ptacek says.

The next boundary committee meeting will be on July 12th, where the main point of discussion will be the block approach for South.