Policy change will require non-profit status for parent clubs

Ann Gill

A change of policy for Coal City schools will require parent organizations and booster clubs to secure non-profit status.
On a recommendation from the Illinois Association of School Boards [IASB], the Unit 1 Board of Education adopted a series of policy revisions to protect the interests of both the school district and support organization.
The changes deal more with the parent/booster clubs, school district and board of education being more protected in liability and financial terms.
The Unit 1 Board of Education, during its July study session, explained that the recommendations are that all finances run through the school district’s activity funds or become their own 501(c)(3) non-profit.
The later was the recommendation of the Board’s Policy Committee comprised of board members Robert Bianchetta and Steve Rogers.
Unit 1 Superintendent Dr. Kent Bugg said the committee spent quite a bit of time discussing the policy and direction the board should take.
Directing each to assume its own 501(c)(3) status is for a couple of reasons.
“One being liability protection. When someone holds a fundraiser event and doing it in the school’s name, if something would happen the school district could be liable. Whereas, if they are their own 501(c)(3) they are their own organization. Secondly, they have to take care of their own fiscal matters. We don’t have to worry about it, which right now we have to get books and go through our audits. If they are their own organization they do their own thing,” Bugg said.
However, he notes these groups will still have to follow district rules regarding donations. Clubs and organizations make donations to the district and recommend what they want it used for. But the board still has the final say over its utilization.
In order for a booster club or parent organization to utilize the school name or logo it must have district approval and non-profit status.
Along with that, the group must have established by-laws that contain the organization’s purpose, rules, and procedures of operation.
Groups must also agree to adhere to all board policies and administrative procedures, as well as maintain open membership.
According to district officials, there are five parent organizations/booster groups operating within the district. The Coal City Music Boosters and Coal City Touchdown Club are already registered 501(c)(3) organizations. Those that need to secure non-profit status are the Athletic Boosters, Parent School Organization [PSO] and Promfest.
High school principal and superintendent designee Chris Spencer informed the board he had spoken to the three organizations regarding the proposed policy change and his intent to follow up prior to the board’s vote.
Bugg said at the study session that one of the concerns was the cost associated with obtaining non-profit status, and it’s something the district will look into with the potential of assisting the groups through the process.
“We understand this may take some time and we’re not looking for it to happen tomorrow,” Spencer said.
Both Bugg and Spencer acknowledged the support each of these groups provide to the students of the district, making it clear the policy change is based solely to protect the organization’s and the district.
“We appreciate what they do, this is as much for their protection as the school district’s,” Bugg said during the July 28 study session.
The policy was one of 82 reviewed and approved by the board.
In other matters:
• The Board accepted a $7,157 grant from the Community Foundation of Grundy County. The financial award comes from the Gerald D. Abel Endowment and will be utilized by the district for its Social & Emotional Learning program. The grant application was submitted by middle school social worker Cealy DePersia.
• As required by districts with outstanding bond debt, a continuing disclosure report must be prepared and the district has contracted Raymond James and Associates to prepare the report at a cost of $1,750.
• At its April meeting, the Board approved receipt of a library grant from the Secretary of State totaling $1,529.25. The district has been awarded an additional $275.27 that was accepted by board members last week.
• Annual membership renewal in TREES for the coming year was approved at a cost of $1,138. TREES provides the district with oversight of grant funds for career and technical initatives.
• Following summer curriculum work, the Board approved the formal standards aligned curriculum for all subject areas as presented.
• Contributions of $250 per student were approved to offset the cost of participation in the Illinois Theatre Festival’s All-State production. Coal City High School students Aidan Kostbade and Derek Carlson were selected to all-state cast and Collin Dames earned a position in the orchestra. The All-State production is scheduled for January 2022.
• Following review, the board approved opening the minutes of seven closed session discussions. Those minutes are from Aug. 5 and Nov. 4, 2020 and Jan. 6, Feb. 24, March 3, April 7 and April 28, 2021.
• The board approved job descriptions for central office secretary and early childhood assistant/parent educator secretary.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 1. A study session is slated for Aug. 25. Both meetings will be held in the district’s administration center at 6 p.m.