MEMBERS of the Quincy Public Schools Foundation have set an ambitious goal of raising $150,000 by the end of the year to continue efforts to provide necessary financial assistance for pressing educational initiatives that cannot otherwise be addressed by the district because of budgetary constraints.
The foundation's annual Dream Big campaign will again ask donors, especially alumni, to provide critical support for curriculum, technology, fine arts, athletics and endowment needs.
Funds also enable grants of up to $1,500 to be awarded to staff members for innovative ideas or teaching practices.
For campaign co-chairman Reaugh Broemmel, the message is simple: "What we'd like to do is help people understand that a vibrant school system creates a vibrant community."
District 172 voters realized this in 2014 when they overwhelmingly approved an $89 million bond issue to provide funding to build five state-of-the-art elementary schools to house K-5 students. Three new buildings already are in use, and the final two will open for the start of the 2019-20 school year.
However, Quincy administrators and School Board members -- like many others around the state -- are still being forced to make difficult day-to-day decisions to balance expenses and revenues because, in part, the state of Illinois has not maintained an appropriate share of the cost of funding education.
While the General Assembly at long last approved a new education funding formula in 2017 that directs additional money to poorer districts like Quincy, continuing financial pressures show no signs of easing because the state still provides only about a quarter of what it takes to educate students.
The Quincy Public Schools Foundation, created in 1989 to help fund necessary academic initiatives and enhance learning opportunities for Quincy students, has helped raise millions of dollars to help fill that void.
It created the successful Circles of Investment initiative in 2003 that enables individuals, groups or companies to contribute between $10,000 and $50,000 each, with the option of specifying what cause their donation would support.
Realizing additional funds were needed, the foundation launched its first Dream Big campaign in 2011, a multi-year grass-roots effort that reached out to all segments of the community to raise $4 million for immediate needs and long-term endowments.
As a result, the successes have been many.
That year, with an $80,000 donation from ADM Cares, the corporate and social investment arm of Archer Daniels Midland, Reading Recovery programs were reinstated in all elementary schools after being eliminated for budgetary reasons.
In addition, alumni and supporters of the Quincy High football, soccer and marching band programs raised funds to replace the grass field at Flinn Stadium with artificial turf.
A year later, the Quincy Junior High band room was renovated and renamed for Dr. John Lynn Lubker, a 1947 graduate who, along with his wife, donated funds for the project.
In 2013, through the generosity of the Knapheide Manufacturing Co. and the Knapheide family, the district installed modern wireless infrastructure in all of its buildings to aid teachers and students in digital learning.
More recently, the foundation worked with another foundation to provide about $300,000 for a new K-5 science curriculum two years ago that later was expanded into the junior high.
"We're still dependent on the foundation for some things critical to education," Superintendent Roy Webb said. "Thank goodness they're here."
The Quincy Public Schools Foundation continues to take a proactive approach in addressing the future of education in Quincy. And those who support its mission are helping to ensure that the future will remain bright for tomorrow's leaders.