Roosevelt PTO Demonstrates Track Fundraising Prowess


Today we’re going to depart from our usual complaining about local government screw ups and/or its robbing of the taxpayers and, instead, praise the brand-new athletic track at Roosevelt Elementary School. 

What’s so special about a new athletic track?  After all, it’s clearly an amenity rather than a necessity – so why all the fuss?

For us, it’s the fact that it cost Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 (a/k/a, its taxpayers) nothing.  Nada.  Zip. Nil.  According to the article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“New track at Park Ridge school fully funded by community donations,” 08.10.12), the construction of the $90,000 track was undertaken by the Roosevelt Parent-Teacher Organization (“PTO”) “fully funded through donations from Park Ridge families and area businesses.”


The planning for the project reportedly started two years ago.  In addition to the two lane, one-fifth mile asphalt track, the project features two “rain gardens” comprised of plants suited to utilizing the rain water run-off from the track.

Given its location, we imagine that it will draw most of its users from the Roosevelt School neighborhood rather than from the rest of the City.  Currently, runners from the southwest end of town seeking a track to run on have the use of the one at Maine South, and those on the northwest end have the Maine East track.  

Although the article didn’t give the details of the fundraising other than to note that a “track-a-thon” held in September 2011 pushed project funding over the top, the bottom line is that the PTO folks running this project didn’t just talk the talk, they walked the walk.

So kudos to the Roosevelt PTO.  Raising $90,000 of net funds in two years for a 2-lane asphalt running track in a bad economy is a significant accomplishment. 

Maybe some of our local community groups who constantly put the arm on City government for handouts should consider holding a track-a-thon or two.

To read or post comments, click on title.

11 comments so far

Great story, and thanks for calling attention to it. Even the most parsimonious among us who call for limited government also realize the great unlimited potential in the community coming together.

EDITOR’S NOTE: People empowering themselves. Who woulda thunk it?

Kudos to the Roosevelt PTO.

One slight correction – the Maine South track is not open to the public – not even to the taxpayers who bought it. I have gone over there at least a dozen times and the track is usually locked. When I can get in, I get thrown out by the facilities people who claim that I’m not allowed on the track. My runner friends have all had the same experience. Perhaps someone can let me know why the taxpayers are not allowed on the MS track.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hmmmm. We’ve seen what look to be adult “civilians” running there from time to time, especially very early a.m. Good question.

It would be awesome if Maine South allowed the residents that live near the school or any Park Ridge residents to us their track. They now keep it locked up when not in use by the school (probably for liability reasons, but that is just a guess). If the teams are practicing on the football / soccer field, you can’t use it during that time either. They will ask you to leave.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sounds like another case of government bureaucrats gone wild.

I don’t know. part of me just wants to shake the C of C and say “It’s not that hard, people.” When my kids were younger our school managed to raise over $100,000 every year. We may have wished for more public funding, but wishing wasn’t gonna make it happen, so we rolled up our sleeves and went to work. I think one of the keys to our success was that people knew exactly where their money was going and how it was going to be used — i.e. “x number of books,” “a drama workshop,” “2 teacher’s aides.” The money came largely from parents, who of course were hugely invested in the cause. But people in the neighborhood also contributed, because they saw the value in having a thriving school in the community.

The track is a good example of people knowing exactly where their money is going and the community seeing a tangible benefit.

I have seen a couple other instances here in PR where people have pulled together to raise funds for causes they’ve deemed important — Iannelli Studios and the post office mural. I also understand a fund is being started for the Youth Campus referendum effort.

The one thing those efforts seem to have in common is that they took/will take a great deal of time and effort to raise the funds needed– i.e. hard work. I even had people coming to my door to appeal on behalf of Iannelli Studios.

I think if the C of C worked as hard on appealing to residents, along with showing us exactly what our money would be funding, as they do in asking City Hall for the cash, they could be in decent shape.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we pointed out in our 03.04.11 post, the CofC seems to revel in its refusal to provide cost-for-service figures. It’s funding submission from February 2011 sought $55,000 from the City based on its vague claim that in 2010 it served 6,770 Park Ridge residents through 8,350 “contacts.” Its alibi for such vagueness: “Total PR contacts was 8,350. Service hours are not tracked.”

In other words: We don’t have to explain anything to you – just give us the money.

Two track-a-thon’s over two years were held to raise the money for this track. And some of the money raised was also used to buy technology needs at the school that apparently the significant tax dollars we give to D64 are not there to cover. The PTO in past years also raised the money to paint the inside of the school. Another fixed asset maintenance cost that should have been paid for out of our significant tax dollars.

Many participated in the raising of money for these efforts at Roosevelt and the PTO volunteer parents and school principal worked hard to make this happen. But please D64 don’t our tax dollars cover more than teacher/administrator salaries and pensions and some building maintenance? Hell-students even have to bring in their own kleenex on top of paying more that $200/year in school fees for 1-5 grade. And I know that PWD will say that we should have to pay for these things and that less government is better government and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps etc. But given the amount school fees we pay in PR for D64 and D207 one could conclude that D64 and D207 are poorly managing the tax dollars they do collect.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Whether D-64 or D-207 is poorly managing our tax dollars is beyond the scope of this post. BUT let’s call a spade a spade here.

If you have a child in the D-64 system, your child is receiving an education costing between $11,180 (according to and $12,000 (according to The median Park Ridge residential property tax bill is approx. $8,000, of which less than $3,000 goes to D-64 – so a median taxpayer’s kid gets $8,000 to $9,000 of educational welfare. And each additional kid brings another $11-12,000 subsidy.

Unless your overall property tax bill is over $30,000/year and you’ve only got one kid in a D-64 school, you’re a welfare recipient. So stop your damn whining about no free Kleenex!

If our tax dollars don’t cover kleenex then there is something wrong with the management of this district. No whining about the kleenex-merely an observation. And in principle it is pathetic that the school district cannot figure out how to pay for this and other basics. And if you do not have a child in d64 or d207 you are really getting screwed. It should not cost $700 in additional school fees to send two kids to middle school.

It is interesting that in a post on 9/1/11 about the poorly managed school district finances you chastised the PTO for being enablers of the poorly managed D64 finances. Now you praise the PTO. Or are you just using this example of successful PTO fundraising to again criticize the C of C.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We wrote back then about the PTOs enabling the District to mismanage essential facilities and services, not amenities like a running track. As for the taxpayers paying for amenities like Kleenex, that’s just silly. And for all the “green” folks out there, kids should bring “renewable” handkerchiefs.

You’re beefing about $700 of fees so that 2 kids in middle school can get $22-24,000 of taxpayer-paid education? Seriously?

PW, when taxpayers pay the majority of their property tax bills for the schools, you have to wonder if $700 in fees is just a way to hide the fact that the tax bill is really even higher. Kleenex (TM) is a personal item and there’s no reason schools should provide it. I just wonder why all the tax money PLUS “fees”. It’s probably driven more by heavy administrative overhead costs than it is Kleenex or even text books.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Excuse our sarcasm, but with the 25th highest paid teachers, 4th highest paid administrators, and ISATs stalled at several levels below that: Gee, ya think?

But when “taxpayers pay the majority of their property tax bills for the schools” yet parents beef about paying $700 in fees for 2 kids who are getting $22-24,000 of taxpayer-paid tuition, we have to wonder how flippin’ selfish such parents can be?

D207 pays the 207 teachers share of the pension fund…… 10% of salary for each teacher amounts to around $6 million per year. That would take care of all the things we are talking about here. Its just a matter of who comes first and it is clearly faculty and admin. And around the state the districts are starting resolutions to place the new pension payments required outside the tax cap limits…so look out for your tax bill.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Well…okay…but how is what D-207 pays toward its teachers’ pensions relevant to this post?

PW, with respect to my point, quoted above in your response to me, what I’m saying is that “taxpayers” and “parents” are two different groups that overlap. Almost all parents are also taxpayers but not all taxpayers are parents. If I were only a taxpayer, I wouldn’t really care that parents have to pay an extra $700; in fact it would make me feel better that I’m not subsidizing everything for parents. If I were both a parent and a taxpayer, I would wonder what the heck they’re doing with my >$10,000 in property taxes that also requires an additional $700 in fees.

None of this should distract from my general point, which is: The school districts run inefficiently, i.e., with too much administrative overhead, which drives up costs to all taxpayers, whether they are parents are not.

I want to believe that taxpayers who are not parents are realizing that we live in a society where “I am forced to pay for your child’s education, and if I don’t, the government can take away my home.” Crazy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A point of of clarification, FWT: If you’re paying “>$10,000 in property taxes” to D-64, then your total tax bill is around $30,000 – which means you’re one of the highest residential taxpayers in town.

Nevertheless, we would like to think that most people appreciate the value of public education to our society and, somewhat selfishly, to our property values. But we get a little torqued off when somebody who’s already getting $4, 5, 6, 7,000 or more (depending on how much in RE taxes he/she pays) of taxpayer subsidy for their kid’s D-64 education – and even more for D-207 – has the gall to beef about a few hundred dollars in fees.

That being said, we think the schools are run in the way we should expect when the CEOs tend to be English or social studies teachers with no business education or experience; and school boards too often live down to Mark Twain’s indictment of them.

New story you may want to see:

I believe the referendum was delayed until April because turnout is always lower for municipal elections, except for people who seem unable to approve tax increases. NO WAY that Park Ridge needs to buy this land. Not now. Let the current owners sit on it, just like Napleton is. We can wait.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks for the scoop. That’s the topic of our post that, hopefully, will be published later today.

As a parent and a taxpayer we have the gall to complain about hundreds of dollars in additional school fees because it is ridiculous that the amount of money D64 and D207 collect in real estate tax dollars as well as other monies from the state and federal government which we taxpaying complaining parents also contribute to through sales and income taxes is not enough to cover the cost of operating the school districts. We should not be paying corporate level salaries to PE teachers and administrators and then paying their defined benefit pension plans for the rest of their lives. PTO’s should not have to raise money for basic fixed asset maintenance (like painting the inside of a school) and improvement and technology needs or even kleenex. It is pathetic that the amount of money the districts collect in tax dollars does not go far beyond salaries and pension costs and it looks an awful lot like mismanagement of public funds.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s just a bunch of heifer dust, and you can’t be stupid enough not to know it.

It’s been well known for the past few years that teachers and administrators in our local districts are very well paid and enjoy outstanding pension benefits that suck up the money for things like paint, building maintenance, etc. Yet the only time you “taxpaying complaining parents” beef about “mismanagment” is when it means you have to pay for something like fees.

Wonder why the State of Illinois is broke? Start with all the freeloaders and semi-freeloaders who, when they’re given a free cookie, beef that it doesn’t come with a free glass of milk.

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