New bleachers at football field, completion of JMS the topics of last night’s D. 117 meeting

By Gary Scott on December 21, 2017 at 7:27am

The need to replace outdated bleachers, as well as changes to the Central Office building and the completion of Jacksonville Middle School were discussed at last night’s District 117 meeting.

With just a few small touch-ups needed to be finished still, the District 117 Board of Education was able to hold their monthly meeting in the new, state-of-the-art auditorium at Jacksonville Middle School last night.

Starting there, while the Board heard updates on the progress of South Elementary School, Superintendent Steve Ptacek also shared some official dates for the completion of the entire JMS building. He says while the building looks to be fully completed by December 27th, the District plans to hold a ribbon-cutting for the entire building on January 9th.

Other discussion topics from last night’s meeting dealt with more serious and pressing concerns. Ptacek says it’s recently been brought to his attention that the bleachers at Kraushaar-Rosenberger Field, where Jacksonville High School plays their home football games, and a small portion of the JHS Bowl, are not up to code.

“Mr. McGiles brought to my attention the bleacher inspection report for the year, that stated that the bleachers at the high school football field and a railing at The Bowl, were out of code. The minute I took that information I realized that I must bring it to the Board to talk about having to take care of that. In the meantime, we found out that alterations to the bleachers, to get them into code, are actually more expensive that buying new bleachers. This is not something we’re pleased with at all, but it’s a fact of the matter that, our bleachers are in a position that’s opening the district for liability if we don’t take care of the code violation,” says Ptacek.

Ptacek explains that, since PTEL legislation passed in 1996 makes District 117 one of the rare districts that’s unable to sell debt service extension bonds, the money for new bleachers will likely have to come from somewhere else.

“Everything we’ve had to pay for for the last 21, almost 22 years now, has been out of cash. That is one reason our buildings are in the sad state they’re in. When we passed the sales tax, that was the first possibility we had to actually sell bonds to get excess money to take care of repairs. This (bleacher situation) is an example of, if we had a debt service extension base, that emergency credit card, we could go out and buy health life safety bonds, we could get the $800,000 to $900,000 we need to buy the new bleachers, and then pay that off over time. We don’t have that potential, so right now, basically what we have to do is take it directly out of our operating funds,” Ptacek explains.

Also at last night’s meeting, the Board discussed putting in seven bathrooms, as well as utilizing other space at the Central Office building in the coming future. As for the bleachers, that item was tabled for further discussion, but Ptacek says they will need to have something done by next fall.