District 117 selects Downtown Square for Jacksonville Alternative School location

By Ryne Turke on May 18, 2016 at 10:01pm

Plans are in motion to place Jacksonville’s Alternative School on the downtown square.

District 117 board members unanimously approved a lease agreement for the school at 30 North Central Park Plaza during Wednesday night’s meeting. Superintendent Steve Ptacek says the building is perfectly set up for the needs required at an alternative school.

“We have some work to do, like some windows to change to laminated glass that are currently not for student safety, putting in a water fountain and we do need to put a fire alarm system in there. Once it is done we will show people how this facility is going to be a tremendous place for many of our students who have a rather intense need of social and emotional support,” says Ptacek.

Ptacek breaks down the layout of the one-story facility.

“There are two store-fronts as you are walking down a hall and each of those store-fronts has offices in the back. There are windows that keep it amazingly visible. This building is designed to be very adaptable to what our current needs are.  We could have a situation where we have students in the fifth grade that have a larger need or it could be students in the high school. By having these separate breakout rooms that are very visible, we are going maximize our opportunities to adapt to our needs. We will do this with minimal staff, compared to a school with multiple classrooms,” says Ptacek.

With the facility being right next to Lincoln Land Community College, Ptacek feels partnership opportunities are definitely a possibility.

The lease agreement will run District 117 $3,500 a month, starting in July. Ptacek expects utility costs will be around $500 a month. Jim Cook owns the building.

District 117 is ramping up the safety at a pair of schools in the District: Lincoln Elementary and Jacksonville Middle School. Cardinal Technology Solutions will be putting in an access control system at both schools, which will require staff to use a card to swipe in.

Ptacek says cameras will be taking pictures of every individual entering the buildings and using cards instead of keys will save money. Ptacek hopes to bring this technology to the rest of the schools in the district.

Board members approved a pair of Health Life Safety Amendment items for Jacksonville High School. A flooring replacement plan with Great Western Abatement for $7,840 will remove asbestos in several areas of the school and a quote from Neff-Colvin, in the amount of $42,420, was accepted for a security remodel of the front entrance. Both projects will be completed this summer.

Board members were also pleased to announce that construction for the Jacksonville Middle School project starts Tuesday at 3 p.m.