Superintendent Ptacek gives first presentation on redefining school boundaries

By Gary Scott on December 7, 2016 at 8:38am

Jacksonville School District 117 got its first community feedback regarding the elementary school re-districting process last night.

Around 40 community members gathered in Washington’s gymnasium to hear Superintendent Steve Ptacek present various scenarios pertaining to the former Franklin Elementary school boundary.

Ptacek began by stating that everyone in the district deserves their own elementary boundary and that the goal of the district was to be as equitable as possible.

The initial scenario would have every student south of Morton attend to South Elementary. Ptacek breaks down how that would affect Washington, and explains possible solutions.

“Washington and South, their Kindergarten students currently go to the Central Office and they would be moving into the space vacated by the sixth graders moving to Jacksonville Middle School. We had a big concern about overcrowding those schools, so we looked at some scenarios, moving kids from the Franklin area into Washington. We came up with a solution that it would fit into Washington. But from there, it left 113 kids moving into Lincoln, which, if you remove the current Franklin kids already going there, that’s an excess of 74 kids at Lincoln. From there we had to develop some possible scenarios to move some kids out of the Lincoln area into neighboring districts, which is predominately North,” say Ptacek.

Another possible scenario would involve adjusting Washington’s western boundary around the streets of Pine, Prospect and Gladstone. Ptacek believes that would be an equitable solution for Eisenhower, but says ultimately it comes down to what’s best for the community.

“That would move 25 kid to Eisenhower, and Eisenhower’s losing 29 kids due to the Franklin students coming out. I think it would be equitable to have those students move into Eisenhower and kind of fill that void vacated by the Franklin students moving out. Even with that, we’ll wait to see how the community feels about that and get their input,” Ptacek explains.

As for transportation concerns, Ptacek says removing the “Franklin choice” will ease the burden for taxpayers.

“Well for one, we should lessen the transportation burden on the taxpayers, because with ‘Franklin Choice’ going away, we will no long have to have the ‘Lincoln Hub.’ The ‘Lincoln Hub’ is where we take students from the Franklin area to Lincoln and then they get on buses to go to the different elementary schools they’ve chosen to go to. By having defined boundaries, we’re going to have a more patterned, systematic transportation system, which will help the taxpayers,” says Ptacek.

Each person in attendance was given a survey to fill out at the conclusion of the presentation. Ptacek says one question was brought up that he’ll now add to those surveys.

“The one question that was brought up by the crowd that I’m actually adding to the questionnaire moving forward was ‘Would the district consider going to a kind of hybrid attendance center model?’ where you would partner two schools and have one of the schools (Kindergarten through second grade) and the other (third, fourth and fifth grades). We have six schools, you could have three partnerships that way. I agreed, let’s ask the community and get their input, I think the Board would want to know how the community felt about that. Because if the community wanted that and supported that, that would drastically alter the attendance boundary pursuit, so it would be the right time to ask that question,” Ptacek says.

District 117 will hold four more meetings starting tonight at Lincoln Elementary. Next week there will be presentations held Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night at North, Eisenhower and South.