District 117 showing improvements in school discipline

By Ryne Turke on January 20, 2016 at 10:01pm

Efforts put forth by District 117 to improve school discipline are starting to show.

Wednesday’s board meeting covered a variety of topics, but school discipline was by far the focus of the night.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek broke down some statistics for board members, comparing the first semester of this school year to the 2014-2015 school year.

The numbers focused on a running total of incidents, students involved in those incidents and days where discipline measures were taken by staff. While the numbers for K-12 varied, Ptacek was pleased with the overall results.

“Our number of students and days suspended in 9th-12th grade reduced each year. The numbers did show we are having a larger increase of incidents in the 5th-8th grade, and even lower than that. Those are the grades we are talking about providing potential educational opportunities or supports.”

First semester statistics from Jacksonville High School showed a decrease of 154 incidents and 54 less students involved in discipline issues.

Board members wasted little time approving the consideration of three positions in District 117 to ensure extra support when behavioral issues arise.

“The ability to hire supports for the alternative education program at Lafayette. They have an economic concern about being able to provide those supports. We are still working with that program to see if it is possible.”

“I want to at least get board approval that, it is possible, we would be able to hire individuals to provide alternative education options for younger students. We currently don’t have any location for junior high students that are exhibiting severe behavioral issues.”

Board members also approved the consideration of a second assistant principal for Jacksonville Middle School.

Ptacek anticipated hiring an additional administrator when the 6th graders moved into the middle school. Ptacek says hiring the second assistant principal before construction starts will be an asset to the school.

Board members also confirmed their support of South Jacksonville’s attempt at extending the village’s tax increment financing agreement by 12 years. Ptacek noted South Jacksonville must have every taxing body in the area agree to the TIF for it to have a chance at passing.

District 117 would benefit from South Jacksonville’s TIF extension through a bond sale of nearly $2-million on a 20-year payment. That money would go towards the renovation of South Jacksonville Elementary.

District 117 representatives will be attending another TIF meeting with the village on Thursday. For more information on the TIF extension, click here.

The consideration of the Lincoln Elementary Project contract with CTS was also approved during the meeting.