District 117 shows support for education funding referendum

By Ryne Turke on November 18, 2014 at 11:09pm

Last night’s District 117 school board meeting stretched into the late evening hours with lengthy discussions on several topics, including Senate Bill 16.

Board members unanimously approved the education reform, which aims to increase the civic, economic and social well-being of the state’s public education system.

District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek talked about the specifics of the bill and explained the impact it will have throughout the district.

“Senate Bill 16 recalculates the general state aid formula to give more money to school districts that have more need and more students at risk,” says Ptacek.

“Jacksonville School District would gain $2.2 million in our guaranteed state aid if Senate Bill 16 were to pass as it is written.”

Other action items approved during the meeting included the 2014 Tentative Tax Levy and the new District 117 Technician position.

The proposed tax levy would rise five percent and lead to an increase of just under $500,000 to be used for funding needs in the district.

The district is currently in the process of finding a candidate for the technician position and District 117 Director of Technology Bill Pool talks about the responsibilities of the job.

“This person will be working in the classrooms and repairing items that teachers need replaced,” says Pool.

“It could be any of the technology peripherals they use. They can remote into session and help teachers if they need to. We did that today for a teacher who had problems with her PowerPoint. We actually can remote into their network without ever leaving our building.”

Some of the numbers from the Morgan County one-cent sales tax were brought up during the meeting. The sales tax passed in the November General Election with 6,615 voters in favor of the sales tax, compared to 4,434 voters who voted against the referendum. Ptacek says the sales tax showed much more success than in the previous attempt.

“In 41 precincts there were only four that failed,” says Ptacek.

“The last time the sales tax was attempted there were only two precincts that passed. It is a pretty major statement not only from the Jacksonville community, but the entire county, for the desire to invest in economic development by investing in our schools.”

Ptacek hopes to have an update on the progress of the building projects by the next board meeting.

Board members also took the time to review the Illinois State Report Card, District 117 ISAT numbers, early graduation procedures and updates on the minority hiring plan.