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Chairman John McCormick (from left), Cindy Kurkowski and Eric Heagy meet with the rest of the Peru School Foundation board at a recent meeting. The foundation was established this spring and is planning fundraising to support Peru Elementary School District 124.
NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord
At a glance
PERU EDUCATION FOUNDATION is a private, incorporated non-profit organization with a board of directors: John McCormick, chairman Bob Etheridge, vice chairman Eric Heagy, secretary/treasurer Cindy Kurkowski Kurt Rimmele Karl Fivek Jennifer Scheri Joyce McCullough Chris Perra Ex-officio non-voting members Cindy Gustat, board of education C.G. Pillai, board of education Jane Charbonneau, teacher Chris Goodman, teacher Mark R. Cross, superintendent
EVENTS — The Peru Education Foundation will hold two fundraisers this coming year, with details and tickets coming later this year. The first will be a Drive-Thru Stone Jug Barbecue, 4:30-7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 26 on the west side of Parkside School. Ticket sales will be announced soon. The second will be a Trivia Night Saturday, March 29, at the Peru Eagle Lodge. More information will be provided later. DONATE — Visit www.perued.net under foundation information use the PayPal link or make checks payable to the “Peru Education Foundation” and send to 1800 Church St., Peru, IL 61354. Donations are tax deductible. “We want to solicit donations wherever possible,” McCormick said. FIND OUT MORE — Contact the foundation by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Peru school district office at (815) 223-0486.
Peru elementary schools are poised to tap a new revenue source with a newly-formed foundation. The Peru Education Foundation plans to hold a drive-through barbeque this fall and a trivia night next spring to begin accumulating funds to support academic endeavors. It hopes fundraisers become annual events. The nine-member Peru Education Foundation has been meeting and developing fundraising ideas. Financial support will be directed toward “developing and augmenting the facilities and carrying out the educational functions,” according to a fact sheet on the district’s website. It will not fund non-academic endeavors such as athletics, Superintendent Mark Cross said. Chairman John McCormick agrees with this mission. “Our PTC (Parent Teacher Club) does a fantastic job of enriching the kids’ school experience through field trips and assemblies and speakers,” he said. “This is to focus on the tools teachers need to help bring it into the classroom.” Staff and the Parent Teacher Club eventually will be able to request funding, Cross said. School board member Jeff Sheppard also suggested establishment of scholarships. Targets will be focused once funds accumulate, McCormick said “Right now we’re talking a lot about getting these fundraisers established and getting them to be successful,” McCormick said. “I don’t think there will be a shortage of wish lists or requests from the district that we can help fund. How much money we raise will dictate a lot of what we can help with.” Formation began in the summer of 2011 as part of the district’s strategic plan. “About two years ago we started on the path and we brought in a few other people to start and this year we filled out our nine-member board and we’ve now been granted tax exempt status which is the first thing we were waiting for and we’re ready to start raising funds to help the district,” McCormick said. Planning and meetings require a lot of members’ time, Cross said. “It’s a wonderful group of people who are very committed to the education of our students,” Cross said. “I could not be more excited about this group of people.” Chris Goodman, kindergarten teacher, serves as a non-voting member. “It’s exciting and refreshing and I feel a lot of gratitude as a teacher toward the members of the new foundation board that they have taken an active interest in our schools,” she said. “I think it says a lot about the community and it can only help our kids so that’s a great thing.” La Salle-Peru Township High School and La Salle elementary district also have foundations. The foundations might collaborate on future fundraising, such as with a sports match-up, McCormick said. McCormick grew up in Spring Valley and attended elementary and high school there. He now has two children attending the Peru district and two sons who will begin kindergarten this fall. About four years he visited his son’s kindergarten teacher, Chris Goodman, and Goodman showed him a smart board. McCormick said he learned not every classroom had one at the time. “And you get to thinking about all of the things that the educational world faces and very little of it has to do with children but it always impacts the kids and I wanted to help see if there was a way to make a good district even better and provide those kids more opportunities, give the teachers the tools to help the kids,” he said. When McCormick visited Goodman’s classroom, its smart board was part of a trial where a few were placed in the district’s schools. Goodman’s was one of the lucky classrooms. “I think that’s what started John’s mind turning,” she said. “As you know Illinois has not been paying its bills and with rising costs and shrinking budgets it’s hard to find the tools that will enrich the kids.” McCormick called state funding “tenuous.” “The government doesn’t seem to pull its weigh,” McCormick said. “They tend to legislate a lot of things they choose not to pay for and that seems to take the district’s time and money. If we can supplement those efforts in some way we’d be happy to do that.” Just a few years ago no classrooms had smart boards — an interactive, electronic, digital screen. “Technology changes on a regular basis,” McCormick said. “Curriculum changes on a regular basis. The tools that they need to teach in the classroom today are significantly different than they were probably five years ago, 10 years ago, certainly 20-30 years ago when I was in school.” Smart boards allow learning to reach more children, Goodman said. “You always need extras resources to get to everybody’s learning style,” she said. “We find that we’re really lucky in Peru schools to have as much as technology as we have. Our education board does such an amazing job of being fiscally responsible. They’ve been adding iPads to our buildings.” Goodman has taught for 30 years, nine in Peru. Her children attended Peru public schools. Her daughter graduated college and her son will be a senior this year at La Salle-Peru Township High School. “I feel I get a chance to give back by serving on the foundation board,” Goodman said.
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