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Jacksonville School Board Approves New Middle School Proposal

Updated: Thursday, June 19 2014, 11:23 AM CDT
The Jacksonsville superintendent says changes are needed to fix old school buildings. He estimates they could spend more than $60 million over the next 10 years keeping schools up to code.

Now a proposal to renovate and expand one school could save the district millions of dollars in the long run.

Old, outdated and in some cases even crumbling. Those are just a few of the words used to describe the condition of schools at Jacksonville District 117.

"Our buildings are very aged. Our most recent building is our high school which was open in 1982," said Superintendent Steve Ptacek.

That upgrade was more than 30 years ago.

A community facilitation team has been working since November to come up with an improvement plan. After a series of public meetings their plan calls for Jonathan Turner Junior High School to be renovated and expanded into a middle school.

"There were some areas of common ground and that common ground seemed to centrally settle around a middle school concept," said Vision 117 Co-Chair, Mary Fergurson.

The renovations and addition would cost the district $21.6 million.

The team of 10 that came up with the plan say a one percent sales tax increase would have to be approved by voters this november.

"We want to ensure that the community feels it's getting its value from an investment standpoint, as well as an educational stand point, and from an equitable stand point," said Fergurson.

If all goes according to plan 6th graders would move from elementary schools to the central location at Jonathan Turner school.

"With that we are going to be able to offer our sixth grade students fine arts programs and athletic competition," said Ptacek.

The movement of students could also impact every school in the district, creating better educational opportunities.

"Many of our kindergartens who are currently at central office to go back to their home schools," said Ptacek.

Wednesday night, the Jacksonville District 117 school board unanimously passed the middle school proposal 7 to 0.

Next month the school board will have to approve a referendum for a 1% sales tax increase that voters will decide in November. Jacksonville School Board Approves New Middle School Proposal

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