School wish list remains mostly unfulfilled

Thursday, July 18, 2002

The Cape Girardeau Public Schools Foundation is inching toward meeting its $600,000 fund-raising goal, but it's about to lose its leader.

So far the district has raised $90,000 for items on a wish list for the new Central High School, including wrestling mats and fencing for the ball fields.

But Rich Payne, who has been a major force in raising funds for the district, will step down as executive director July 31 so he can focus on his new position as director of the Career and Technology Center.

Since 2000, Payne has served as foundation executive director and assistant director of the Career and Technology Center. Since he will be assuming more responsibilities as director of the CTC, he said, he needs to focus on them.

A new executive director will not be named, but the nine-member foundation board will set up three advisory committees -- one for academics, one for athletics and another for arts -- to help raise money for the rest of the items on the list, such as sports lighting for the fields, flagpoles, a track surface and new furniture for the library.

District administrators say they need the items on the wish list to complete the academic, athletic and art facilities at the new school, but school will proceed if they don't get them by the first day of class on Sept. 3.

"School is going to happen no matter what," said superintendent Mark Bowles, "but some of these things are really important to the school environment and encouraging kids to take pride in their school."

Bowles said the list was developed from items that couldn't be included in the original budget for the new high school without a tax increase.

Payne said several businesses and individuals in the community have been generous in donating labor, materials and money, but the district still would like more, including $75,000 to purchase new furniture and shelving for the library.

"The library will be the centerpiece of the academic wing, and it needs to reflect that," Payne said. "In the meantime we'll use the old stuff. We'll survive."

Approximately $25,000 is still needed for music supplies: cabinets, podiums, music stands and instrument racks. More than $300,000 is needed for sports lighting, bleachers and scoreboards for the softball and baseball fields.

Sharon Mueller, a member of the foundation board and the school board, said if the district can get some of the items on the list funded now, such as sprinkler systems and lighting for the ball fields, it will save money in the long run.

"When you build a house, even if you can't afford to implement a new alarm system, it's much more affordable to run the wiring while construction is being done, and then later you can hook the stuff up and pay for the monthly service," Mueller said. "Once we pay to have the fields in place, it's going to cost a lot more to go back and rip all of that up."

335-6611, extension 128

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