Jacksonville School District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek says that the district has been an elite role model in the State of Illinois this year. Ptacek outlined to the board of education last night the district’s achievement of being able to stay with in-person learning throughout the entire first semester.
Ptacek says that the school year so far has gone beyond most people’s expectations both within and outside of the district. Ptacek continued the idea that the community and the district believed that closing schools would result in irreparable harm to students. Ptacek says that the district’s data collection on COVID-19 shows that the schools are not a source of community spread and are the safest places for students to remain. Ptacek thanked the community, the staff, the Jacksonville Schools Foundation, and the district’s nursing team managed by Cindy Weger for their tireless efforts for keeping schools open during the pandemic and providing support to students in various ways.
Ptacek also wanted to highlight Morgan County Health Department Administrator Dale Bainter’s intricate role in helping keep schools open by maintaining the balance of public health safety and schools remaining open at this time. Ptacek said after getting to know and work closely with Bainter over the last several months that the community should be thankful for having an “all star” in the Health Department.
Ptacek also wanted to fully dispel rumors about why the school was staying open that has been circulating since the beginning of the semester. He says that contrary to many social media posts, the district is not receiving any extra money for remaining in person. Ptacek says contrary to what many of those posts claim is a nefarious way for the district to generate revenue, the district is actually spending more money by staying open and continuing to keep students safe under the guidelines and protocols the district has implemented to fight COVID-19.
District Treasurer Jamie Hadjan, prior to Ptacek’s report, had provided the board a budget snapshot showing that the district was on pace in keeping with its projected budget, comparing budget spending from the previous 4 years. She says that despite the district’s extra expenses and cost-cutting measures in others, the district’s finances are right where they should be for this time of year. District enrollment figures showed that 17% of the student population remains on remote learning at this time, which is where it has remained for several weeks.
Ptacek says that he looks forward to in-person learning for the remainder of the school year.