Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

February 26, 2013

Unit 50 programs saved by TEF donation

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

TEUTOPOLIS — Thanks to the Teutopolis Education Foundation, funding for a number of extracurricular activities that had been on the chopping block in the financially strapped school district will be funded - at least for one year.

Foundation President Tim Hemmen said the activities include Future Farmers of America, marching and pep bands, the student newspaper and dramatics, as well as other clubs well established at both the junior and senior high schools.

Hemmen said the $25,000 donation fits in with the organization's overall mission.

"Our organization is dedicated to supporting the quality of education within Teutopolis and Sigel," he said. "The classroom is one part of the experience, but extracurricular activities enhance that experience."

Hemmen said the foundation didn't want to decide which activities to support, so it chose all those activities that Unit 50 officials said would be cut to help reduce a deficit of nearly $1 million.

"We didn't want to pick and choose," he said. "If the school district decides not to fund an activity, that will be their decision."

Unit 50 Superintendent Bill Fritcher said most of the donation would fund stipends for advisers in those programs, though he added some travel expenses would be covered as well.

"Obviously, I'm thrilled," Fritcher said. "We believe kids need these activities to provide a well-rounded educational experience."

Band director Melissa Orndorff said she is looking forward to another year of band activities in Teutopolis.

"Of course, I don't want anything cut from our schools. Nobody does," Orndorff said. "Thanks to the TEF's donation, our band program will continue netx year and benefit the students at Teutopolis."

The foundation's donation doesn't cover athletic activities slated to be axed, including fall baseball, freshman-sophomore girls basketball and boys and girls golf. But Fritcher said he has heard rumors that an individual or group would step up to fund those activities for the 2013-14 school year, though he stressed that he doesn't have any way to confirm those rumors at this time.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.