Two important changes in the map of School District 117 are happening this summer. The district has purchased the old Jacksonville Savings Bank building and is currently in the process of establishing their central offices there. For the previous central office building off of Jordan, the plan is a full-scale remodel to convert the space into the early childhood center.
A competitive process was recently undertaken by the state government of Illinois. All school districts in Illinois that have Pre-K programs were told to create a sort of application to the state, who would determine what funding would look like for the 2018-2019 school year. With this pursuit of the district as a highlight in their application, the state of Illinois has given additional financial coverage for district 117 to continue teaching their youngest students.
Superintendent of District 117 Steve Ptacek gives an estimate of new funding numbers.
“Well the old number was $943,000 total in our early childhood block grant. We don't have the exact number yet, but a solid estimate is $1.6 million. This is all state-funded services for our community each year. The fact that we're renovating what is now the old central office building into the new Pre-K center helped secure extra grant dollars.”
Now that this increase in funding has been confirmed by the state, Ptacek outlines the capabilities which the district is now able to guarantee local residents with young children.
“Early childhood education is the foundation for getting many of our at-risk students right on par with their peers, and we're very excited that we're going to be able to expand both the number of kids that we serve and the number of kids who are in full-day programs, along with a major increase in our prevention initiative program, which is where we have adults that go work with families to help with the entire family structure of getting their kids ready for school.”
Ptacek says how many students the new Pre-K center will service next school year.
“Last year, we served 180 students total, and I think 60 of those students were half-day. We're gonna go to 240 students.”
Many districts were kept stagnant in terms of funding, some like District 117 were given additional funds. According to Ptacek, however, there are districts that have been told previously guaranteed state funding for their Pre-K programs has been completely eliminated.