Vision 117 construction manager plans put on hold

By Ryne Turke on April 15, 2015 at 11:08pm

board members at District 117 meeting

A contract has been finalized for an architect on the Turner Renovation Project, but hiring a construction manager is going to take a little longer than expected.

District 117 board members selected BLDD as their top architect choice during a special meeting last month and they made the decision official last night.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek says the contract ensures the district has every form of protection.

“You always have a contract in case things go poorly. We don’t expect them to, but the district is protected in case something does,” says Ptacek.

“Price, costs and expectations of the job are very industry standard with a project like this.”

The original plan last night was to take the next step in the Vision 117 process by voting on the approval of an RFQ for a construction manager. Ptacek says the delivery method hadn’t been finalized yet. Board members hope to address the topic during the April 27th meeting.

Sticking with plans for the Vision 117 process, board members discussed creating a new assistant principal position. Ptacek feels Turner Junior High will need an additional principal after construction is finished.

“I’m interested in exploring the possibility of having an administrator in training as an assistant in our elementary schools for the two years before that. It is very hard to find principal candidates in the state at this time, because they have changed the principal education programs to an extent that the candidates are limited,” says Ptacek.

“If we can find someone and get them trained in evaluations and our school improvement initiatives, it might help the district in the long run.”

Ptacek admitted this will be a cost to the district and the school board may not be in favor of the idea.

In other action items, board members approved two new safety positions for District 117. A second school resource officer will allow additional security to be stationed at Jacksonville High School and Turner Junior High.

A District 117 security officer position was approved and consists of updating security protocols and communicating with local police during emergencies. Board members will begin seeking candidates for the positions, which will be filled by next school year.

An extended discussion was held to highlight the role board members should be playing in budget preparation. Ptacek says this is a discussion that should be happening within every school board, especially during tough economic times.

“If we get into a situation where we are going to be making cuts, we have to have the board involved by clearly defining the district-wide objectives,” says Ptacek.

“So when we make cuts, those cuts are coming back to those objectives. You have to analyze those priorities, so when you make cuts you have those guidelines.”

Ptacek listed examples of establishing a priority objective for advanced placement programs at JHS and adding band and fine arts to Turner Junior High after the renovation is completed.