PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- The Pikeland School District has received its largest donation from the Pittsfield High School class of 1954.
The Pittsfield High School Class of 1954 Scholarship Fund gave the district $83,000 during a ceremony Thursday morning at the school. District Superintendent Paula Hawley said the timing of the donation was critical.
"Without this, we just wouldn't have the funds to be able to do the work at the depth required," Hawley said. "The timing is awesome. There just isn't any money for schools right now, and it's a really nice boost for us."
The largest chunk of the donation, $30,000, will be put toward curriculum planning and alignment for all K-12 students. Hawley said the effort will create a cohesion between grades and buildings in the district. An additional $11,000 will go to buying new textbooks, classroom resources and electronic texts.
"We will look at what we do well and what we need to work on," Hawley said. "We will be bringing someone on the outside in to take a look at what we're doing and allowing teachers to go with it from there."
A notable portion of the money will also be dedicated to classroom technology. The district will spend $13,000 to buy a Chromebook cart and Chromebooks for grades three through five and $7,500 to buy 15 iPads for teachers at South Elementary School.
"We use technology all the time now," Hawley said. "It's critical that our students have access to it. It will help them be successful as they go and grow."
An update to the district's fiber-optic capabilities this summer will improve its internet speed, Hawley said.
"Until now, the backbone of the district was not able to support this technology," she said. "We were at a standstill."
The district will also spend $9,000 to support student engagement. The money will boost student participation in extracurricular activities in hopes of improving grade accountability, school pride and student buy-in. Student engagement coordinators will be brought in to facilitate the process.
"It's unique. People in those positions will look at kids' engagement in school, asking how do we take our leaders and step them up?" Hawley said. "It's really a different piece for us and will hopefully lead to better attendance and fewer disciplinary issues."
Of the rest of the money, $6,000 will support K-3 implementation of the Second Step social/emotional curriculum, $4,000 will be used for philanthropic reallocation by the class of 1954 award recipients, $2,000 will go to the class of 1954 staff recognition awards, and $500 will buy equipment for the middle school physical education program.
The Class of 1954 Scholarship Fund began awarding renewable college scholarships to graduating seniors in 1986. The fund awards four scholarships each year. Two students receive scholarships of $5,000 a year to attend a four-year college or university. One student receives a $5,000 vocational-technical school scholarship, and another student receives a $5,000 community college scholarship. This year's recipients were also given a monetary award and allowed to individually select the Pikeland School District program it would support.
The fund first began investing in the district last year, with $28,500 provided to stimulate additional community support.