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Private WWS Fundraising Group Looks to Improve School's Athletic Facilities

Group representative tells District 200 School Board all improvements will be paid for with private funds.

Families of current students and alumni of Wheaton Warrenville South High School are looking to launch a private fundraising effort to enhance the outdoor athletic facilities at that school.

Paul Molino on Wednesday introduced the District 200 Board of Education to the concept of the Red Grange Athletic Complex Fund at Wheaton Warrenville South.

Although in its infancy, the organization plans to raise money to enhance the football field, build a storage facility, a new soccer and lacrosse field, renovate the track and create a practice area for the school’s marching band, Molino said. He said the organization wants to give back to a school that means so much to the community.

Molino said the group, which currently consists of about 10 members, would not advance its efforts without approval from the board of education.

“We want to create a long commitment to Wheaton Warrenville South (WWS), but did not want to get carried away without your approval,” Molino said.

Molino, who has two children at WWS and one at , said whatever projects the fund can undertake will be paid for entirely with private monies.

“I am here to assure you we do not want your money,” he told the board.

He said the group would pay a professional fundraising organization to conduct a feasibility study to determine the scope of what is possible to achieve, especially given the current economic climate. Hoping to raise millions of dollars, Molino said his group has the support of the WWS booster clubs as well as the school’s athletic department and administration.

Molino said the fundraising effort would target four pools of money: Current students and their parents, future students and their parents, alumni and corporate sponsorships. The funds would be collected and administered by DuPage Community Foundation.

The board did not take action at its meeting Wednesday. Board members questioned the group's short- and long-term plans and some expressed concern over how the fundraising effort would impact other school programs, particularly the arts.

Board member Barb Intihar wanted to know what a private fundraising effort at WWS would mean for the facilities at Wheaton North and would facilities at the schools be “grossly different.”

Board member Ken Knicker said there is a precedent for the district partnering with a private organization. He said the baseball field at Wheaton North, which he described as the finest in the athletic conference, was a private gift to the school.

Board President Rosemary Swanson said the board will continue to discuss the possibility of approving the efforts of the Red Grange Athletic Complex Fund. She said it could take several meetings before final approval is given.

Any funds raised for projects at the school would have to be approved by the school board, Superintendent Brian Harris said.

Individuals interested in donating to the WWS fund can contact Molino at paul@rmmslegal.com.

Alex Keown November 10, 2011 at 02:26 PM
I find it interesting that some board members were concerned how private money spent to improve facilities at one school might have a negative impact on the other high school.
Jeff Sand November 10, 2011 at 10:05 PM
I think the football field is about the last thing at WWS that needs millions of dollars spent on it - since 1993, it's gotten new parking, new grandstands, new artificial turf, and it already has a modern concessions building - and wasn't the sales pitch for the 2003 referendum that the fieldhouses would serve as maching band practice facilities? That said, I guess I have no problem if someone wants to do private fundraising. I don't think it's out of line to question if the end result will be significantly unequal facilities at WNHS and WWSHS.
Jeff Sand November 10, 2011 at 10:06 PM
Oops, my comment should have read "since 2003", not 1993.
Jeff Sand November 10, 2011 at 10:28 PM
Can someone explain what the difference is bewteen this new group and the existing Boosters group (Tiger PAWS), and why these proposed improvements can't be funded through PAWS? My only thought would be that maybe it's operating under a different chapter of tax code that allows (more) corporate funding than PAWS could do?
Jeff Sand November 10, 2011 at 10:51 PM
Why is it "interesting" that board members are concerned about having equitable facilities across the district? I think that's something the board should always strive for.
Alex Keown November 11, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Jeff, thanks for all the great comments, My thought on it being interesting is you have a parent/ alumni organization desiring to improve the facilities at a school with private money.That's laudable in my opinion. Should parents/ alumni from another school not undertake a similar challenge (for whatever reasons, be it lack of interest or funds) why should that impact the other school? Should they be deprived of such privately funded improvements? Mind you, I'm not suggesting the board that's the board's intentions whatsoever, just think it's an interesting argument that could be brought up.
Louise November 11, 2011 at 01:41 PM
The scale of this project would be all-consuming for Tiger PAWS, which would distract it from the numerous other activities that PAWS supports. PAWS is not a sports booster group. PAWS supports academics, sports, fine arts and all clubs at South. A private group is definitely the correct mechanism to pursue this goal. And, on that note, the Board should definitely consider the bigger picture here, as stewards of Community Unit School District 20, not just WWSHS. Is it necessary? Are there more important needs that currently aren't being funded and might benefit from outside fundraising? Every decision made, every dollar spent should be based on whether it will improve learning outcomes and help create well-rounded, engaged students.
Charlotte Eriksen (Editor) November 17, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Thanks, Jeff, for your input.
Charlotte Eriksen (Editor) November 17, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Thanks, Louise. These wouldn't be the district's dollars being spent, though. But, down the line, the fundraising group will probably need the nod of the board to proceed with plans to build at the school. Do you think the board would deny it?
John Mihas February 09, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I think Mr Knicker is being near sighted on this project. Under his reasoning all schools should be equal. Well Mr Knicker when Franklin Middle School spent 100,000. of taxpayer money for the arch, why didn't you come out say we can't proceed unless all schools get an arch. Or when Wheaton North had private funds to ro-do the baseball field, where was your objection that they share the money with WWS? I applaud the parents who want to improve the facilities without taxpayer money.

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