Jacksonville School District 117 Purchases Jamison’s Future Swings Location on Morton Avenue

By Benjamin Cox on March 30, 2023 at 9:59am

Jacksonville School District 117 is moving its Building & Grounds Department to a new site this summer.

The move corresponds with the District 117 School Board approving the purchase of the Jamison Future Swings building at 2253 West Morton Avenue last night during a special meeting.

The transfer of the property will take place on June 1st. Superintendent Steve Ptacek says the move sets up a couple of different positives for the district: “There is really two reasons we went through with the purchase of the Future Swings building. The primary reason that even pushed us into looking into buying property is that we were looking at expanding our Early Years program over the next couple of years. We currently serve somewhere near 250 students. We have 80 on our waiting list almost every year. We know we can get up to 100 extra students into the Early Years program. We all understand the value of that program. Right now, they can’t expand and can’t grow because in the back of the Early Years program is our Buildings & Grounds Department. So, if we found a place for them, – and we’ve been talking about this for awhile – we would be able to expand that program. We decided that project is after the completion of Eisenhower Elementary and it’s kind of the next step and the direction we are looking.”

Ptacek says the second reason for the move is that it will create some cost savings for the district in the long run that just makes sense: “The second reason is we’ve kind have also been looking for a place to put Buildings & Grounds anyway because it’s really cramped. At the new location, we are going to be able to maintain all of our district vehicles indoors, which lead to and extend the life of all of our vehicles. Our storage capacity for the purchase of anything from paper towels to toilet paper is going to greatly expand so we can buy in bigger bulk. There is going to be extra areas that we can work on vehicles. There is just a lot of stuff that goes on in the current location that we are not able to do right now. Therefore, this is a good investment for our Buildings & Grounds Department; but it’s a great investment for the future of the Early Years program.”

Ptacek says the $500,000 price tag on the building is coming from the District’s current surplus in their fund balances for the year. Ptacek says with Governor J.B. Pritzker’s current focus on placing more money in Early Childhood education in the state, the expansion of the district’s Early Years program may open up the possibility that the district would be eligible for more state funding: “Another aspect of this is the amount of money the state is putting into Early Childhood programs is by opening up that full building, it’s really going to allow the district to maximize the opportunity to seize on grants or to seize on opportunities to expand that building without it being a cost on the taxpayers. By having that extra space, we are hoping to maximize the services to our students at the state grant level instead of through the taxpayers.”

Ptacek told the District 117 Board of Education that the owners of the building are going to be taking the next few months until the final closing cleaning out the building to move to their facilities on West Walnut Avenue.

Kristin Jamison, co-owner of the property, said in a press release that it’s a big win for both sides of the transaction: “We feel this is a win-win for the Jacksonville community. The Jacksonville School District will soon have more space to grow their pre-kindergarten program and house their grounds department, while our two businesses will build on a synergistic relationship and continue to grow.”

Future Swings will lease space formerly known as “The Hitting Zone.” The building at 5 Kelly Street includes six batting cages and access to turf fields, allowing for more outdoor training opportunities.

More information on what this means for Future Champions Sports Complex and The Hitting Zone will be heard on Monday, April 3rd’s episode of “What’s On Your Mind” on AM1180 WLDS.