District 117 School Year Off to Good Start as Classes Release Early Due to Heat Thursday

By Jeremy Coumbes on August 24, 2023 at 10:30am

Jacksonville School District 117 is now one week into the new school year and off to a good start despite the heat that is now affecting classes today.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek reported to the District 117 School Board last night that despite two major facility moves during the summer, the start of the new school year went according to plan with no issues.

The first couple of days have been fantastic. It was wonderful to see the excitement on the students’ faces at Washington as they entered into a brand-new building. The Eisenhower staff has done a wonderful job of transitioning into the modulars.

Those modulars are very nice, the classrooms are very nice, and I think they are learning what it’s like to teach with walls, something that they are going to be able to have in the future.

Once again I commend the tech department and the maintenance department for all the work they did to move technology and furniture and equipment around throughout the entire district.”

The district is on SIP early dismissal hours today due to the heat forecasted to reach a high of 99 with a heat index of 110. Ptacek says by waiting until the day of the heat event to call the early schedule the district will not have to have a make-up day for the early release.

He says with the majority of District 117 spaces being air-conditioned, this heat wave has been for the most part bearable for students and staff.

He says though that releasing earlier around the mid-day hour could potentially mean a five-degree difference in temperature so kids aren’t going home during the hottest part of the day.

The start of the year went wonderful and with the temperature, everybody’s been great. It’s been warm and maybe even miserable in some places but not hazardous. But we’re a little worried about that for [Thursday] with the excessive heat.

Especially when we have twelve non-air conditioned buses some bus drivers that are on our buses for two-plus hours in the afternoon and some kids that are there that long. So we’re doing very well and coping. It’s very good that our buildings for the most part are air conditioned so we are able to adapt and adjust where needed.”

During SIP days, or Student Improvement Planning days, schools release early in a staggered time frame with each school having its own SIP schedule.

Ptacek is asking parents to please check with the SIP schedule for their student’s specific school for release times.