HistoryThe Galesburg Public Schools Foundation was established in 1987 to help stabilize the financial situation in the local school district. The 1980’s presented many financial challenges to District 205 when changing demographics, declining enrollment, and decreased state funding combined to create serious financial swings in the districts budget. It was a decade which required the passage of two school referenda to meet the needs of the students and reinstate programming that had been cut. The first such referendum was in 1984 and by 1987 the need for another referendum surfaced.
When the need for a second referendum arose in a matter of three years, many of the people involved in the 1984 referendum effort, as well as district personnel, formed the Galesburg Public Schools Foundation. A steering committee charted the course and goals of the Foundation. They were, and still are, to enhance the educational opportunities of our students, and to improve the relationship between the community and the school district. The Foundation has since served as a vehicle to secure private funds to augment the educational experience for students.
Many of the individuals who established the Foundation in 1987 were also involved in the second referendum effort which resulted in success in spring 1988. In the course of the work on the 1988 referendum it became apparent that there was tremendous need for additional gym space at Galesburg High School for several reasons. The old high school had three gyms and two pools and the current high school, opened in 1959, had only one gym and no pool. Illinois was (and still is) one of few states that require daily physical education classes and it was hard to meet the academic needs of the student body in this facility. The school district was revamped in the 1980’s and added grade 9 to the high school population, further crowding the gym. Finally, Title IX mandated equality in sports for boys and girls which increased the number of students needing gym space for extra curricular activities. There were days when 200 students where in the gym at one time for varied P.E. instruction and sports practices were held at different school locations to accommodate the expanding teams.
While the case for additional space was compelling, it seemed risky to ask the taxpayers for yet a third referendum. The District asked the Foundation to raise the money to fund the construction of an auxiliary gym and pool. The Foundation agreed to take on this major capital project. The Foundation assumed responsibility for both the fundraising and the construction of the facility. It was at this time that the Foundation established its independence from the District. Working tirelessly for over 5 years and raising over 1.8 million dollars with no tax monies involved – the new facility was completed and turned over to the district in the fall of 1993.
Following that major fundraising effort, the Foundation has continued its focus on enhancing educational opportunities for students by funding a variety of projects at every grade level in every school. The basic allocation system for awarding money to each school is based on the number of students in that school. When the school personnel receive notice of their schools annual allocation, they must then submit a proposal to the Foundation outlining how they intend to use the money. The Foundation approves all proposals before the money is released. Under this system the schools have recieved $249,254, bringing the total given to District 205 to nearly 2.1 million dollars.
The Foundation’s annual income is derived from two main sources. A Major Saver discount card fundraiser and an Annual Support Campaign letter along with a Newsletter which are mailed out during the year.
In September 2011 and 2013, the Galesburg Public School Foundation was recognized by the District #205 Board of Education for their many years of working to raise money to enhance the educational opportunities of students in District #205. GPSF board members were presented with a plaque during a Board of Education meeting. We look forward to continuing to work with all members of the school district towards a common goal of helping our students succeed in the years to come.
It isn’t just a “Three R” world anymore; the one-room schoolhouses are closed. Science, computers, foreign languages, visiting authors, are all part of a good education; it’s a competitive world. The opportunities for youth today are limited only by the quality of their education. The Foundation has become an integral part of Galesburg’s educational environment for students in District 205 on many different levels. As we continue our efforts, we look forward to working closely with the district to identify the best way to serve our students.