JSD 117 Will Need to look at Closing One of the Grade Schools Soon

By Gary Scott on November 18, 2021 at 9:07am

The Jacksonville school board may take steps in the future months to shrink the number of schools, rather than expand school buildings.

            District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek said last night declining enrollment is the culprit.

            Phase three of the District 117 vision plan was to improve the Washington grade school building, and either expand South Grade School and close Murrayville-Woodson, or expand Murrayville-Woodson and keep South as is.

            But, Ptacek told the board last night the enrollment numbers don’t make that choice the proper one.

            He said enrollment overall is down 4-point-84 percent, which is reflective of the trend statewide. He  said enrollment in K-5 dropped from 1592 in the 2009-10 school year to 1305 this year.

The Jacksonville superintendent said the district must look at closing one of the grade schools within the next five years.

            Ptacek said this issue would need to be immediately addressed if the finances in the district weren’t in such a good position right now.

He said 80 percent of the construction bond money must be spent by September of 2024. But he said the Washington project, with a couple of other district projects should take care of that.

            The board voted to appoint board members Mike Lonergan and Theresa Wilson to work with the Jacksonville High School Hall of Fame committee to make sure the committee is reflective of all sports in the district. Ptacek said the school board must offer some direction in such an endeavor that represents all of the school district.

            The board tentatively approved a 4-point-99 percent tax levy increase, which falls under the truth in taxation threshold limit of 5-percent. Once that is surpassed, the school board must hold a public hearing. Final approval is left for next month, in hopes of getting more accurate district wide equalized assessed valuation, or EAV.

            The board honored Brady Kaufmann for finishing second in the state 2A golf tournament. Kaufmann finished 1st or second in 16 golf meets this year.

            Board members authorized $30,200 for a new electronic sign for Jacksonville High School.

            And, Maria Ferraro had harsh words for the school board, calling board members cowards for not challenging Governor JB Pritzker’s mask mandate. Ferraro spoke at the start of the meeting, and says she hoped all board members would be defeated at the polls in the next election.