By EDWARD HUSAR Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The Quincy High School Alumni Association is taking action to provide a new revenue stream for Quincy's public schools.
The association is sponsoring the first Big Blue Raffle with a goal of raising $310,000 for local schools while giving away $176,500 in cash prizes to raffle participants.
Tickets for the raffle -- priced at $100 apiece -- go on sale Monday. A maximum of 5,000 tickets will be sold, which would generate $500,000.
Raffle organizers plan to award 100 cash prizes during the next three months, with the grand prize of $100,000 announced on March 9 during the QHS Showcase of Excellence. The second-place prize of $25,000, third-place prize of $10,000 and fourth-place prize of $5,000 also will be awarded at that closing event.
In addition, the prize pool includes 10 $1,000 prizes, 20 $500 prizes and 66 $250 prizes.
The first $1,000 prize will be drawn next Saturday, Nov. 24, during halftime of the Blue Devils' game at the QHS Thanksgiving Tournament. After that, multiple winners will be announced at other basketball games and school-related events between December and February.
Every ticket sold -- and every winning ticket drawn -- will be re-entered into each subsequent drawing. That means participants can win multiple times if luck is on their side.
"It's a great opportunity," said Julie Ross, executive director of the Quincy Public Schools Foundation, which sponsors the QHS Alumni Association. Both organizations are headquartered in the same office in the Board of Education building, 1416 Maine.
"Every ticket is eligible for every drawing," Ross said. "So theoretically, you have the opportunity to win $176,500. But that would be freakish."
She noted that ticket applications and payments must in the school district's possession 48 hours ahead of any drawing to ensure the payment can be verified, thereby making the ticket eligible for that particular drawing.
Every ticket sold will be placed inside a drum in a secure office at Schreacke and Associates, a certified public accounting firm hired to serve as raffle manager. Ross said associates with the firm will tumble all the tickets in the drum and randomly pick the prize winners. Copies of each winning ticket will then be sealed inside envelopes to be opened during the prize-announcement ceremonies at the upcoming school events. The identity of winners will not be revealed until the envelopes are opened.
Ross said the tickets and drum will never leave the CPA firm's office.
"It just minimizes anything that could go wrong," she said. "We want complete integrity with the whole process."
In addition to the $176,500 in prizes to be awarded, $13,500 from the proceeds will be reserved to cover expenses. That will leave $310,000 in revenue for the public schools.
The first $50,000 will be split among the 14 schools according to the wishes of raffle participants. Every person who buys a ticket will be able to designate where $10 of the $100 purchase price will go. The list of schools includes all seven elementary schools; the three sections at Baldwin Intermediate School (North, South and West); Quincy Junior High; QHS; the Quincy Area Vocational-Technical Center; and the Early Childhood and Family Education Center.
The remaining $260,000 would then be available to use as needed to support activities throughout the Quincy School District in the areas of curriculum, technology, fine arts and athletics.
Ross said the QHS Alumni Association first approached her with the idea of organizing a raffle about three years ago. However, the QPS Foundation was getting ready at that time to unveil its "Dream Big" initiative -- a multi-year campaign to raise $4 million to help support various programs in the district.
"We asked them not to," Ross said. "But now we feel like we're far enough into the Dream Big campaign that if they want to do this, that's fine."
Todd Moore, an alumni association member involved in the raffle project, said the organization's leadership felt a raffle would be "a quick way to make a lot of money" for Quincy's cash-strapped public schools.
"We thought it could really help out in all these different areas to supplement what the foundation is already doing," he said.
Ross said raffles of this nature "are being done in school districts all over the state of Illinois." Quincy's Catholic schools also started offering a similar raffle a couple of years ago with good results.
Although Ross is hopeful the "Big Blue Raffle" goes over well with the public, organizers added a stipulation in the official rules that if the alumni association doesn't sell at least 2,500 tickets by Jan. 12, the raffle committee reserves the right to withdraw the remaining prizes and split the net proceeds between the Alumni Association and a single prize winner.
The rules also stipulate that for any prize of $5,000 or more, all necessary taxes will be withdrawn and paid to the appropriate government authority on behalf of the ticket buyer.
Tickets for the Big Blue Raffle can be bought several different ways:
• In person at the Quincy High School Alumni Association office in the Board of Education headquarters, 1416 Maine; at any public school office; or from any designated raffle agent selling the tickets, priced at $100 apiece.
• Online using a credit card at www.qhsalumniraffle.com starting Monday.
• By fax. Download the entry form at www.qhsalumniraffle.com, fill it out and fax it to the alumni association office at (217) 224-5055.
• By calling the QPS Foundation office at (217) 228-7158, ext. 2256, and making arrangements for a ticket purchase.
Payment for tickets can be made by personal check, cashier's check or credit card. All credit card transactions will be subject to a $5 handling fee. Only 5,000 tickets will be sold. Any ticket purchases submitted after the maximum is reached will be returned.
More information is available at www.qhsalumniraffle.com.