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W-F Booster Club to donate equipment

The Weyauwega-Fremont Booster Club’s intention to donate fitness equipment to the school district should be without a value tied to it, says one member of the W-F School Board.

“It should be donated unconditionally,” Neal Loehrke said during the board’s Monday, Nov. 11, Committee of the Whole meeting.

The booster club was scheduled to meet Wednesday, Nov. 13, and Club President Tim Cullen planned to ask the members whether the value of the equipment would be included as part of the donation.

“I think the issue is Neal brought it up about it (the fitness equipment) being stored in a school facility,” Cullen said.

The booster club received the lightly used equipment donation from Experience Fitness this year while the club was raising funds for a new fitness center off W-F High School.

Experience Fitness donated the equipment to the booster club, because the equipment was the wrong color, he said.

Through the donor and booster club, a value of $59,000 was arrived at for the donation, Cullen said.

After Loehrke questioned the estimate, the booster club sought a second estimate of how much the equipment was worth.

Julio Marshall, the main buyer for 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, estimated the value of the donated equipment to be $76,199.

The equipment is currently being stored in the school district’s old middle school building.

Several months ago, Loehrke questioned if the booster club should be allowed to store the equipment there without filling out a facility use form.

Now, the club is planning to donate the equipment outright to the school district, as it continues to raise money for a fitness center.

Loehrke’s question about whether the donated equipment would include its value was related to the district’s Matching Funds Program.

He asked where is the precedent for the district to match funds raised by the booster club.

District Administrator Scott Bleck said he believes the press box in an example of when the district matched a contribution made by the booster club.

Loehrke said the donator and the booster club have a vested interest to have a high value on the donated fitness equipment.

The value of the equipment was included in the amount the club said it has raised for a fitness center.

The booster club went before the School Board about a year ago with its proposal to raise money for a fitness center.

Last November, the board voted to contribute $400,000 toward the $800,000 project if the booster club raised $400,000 by June 1.

The June 1 deadline was self imposed by the booster club, and when the club did not raise that amount by June 1, it asked the board for an additional six months to raise funds.

On June 24, the board voted to withdraw the motion it made in November, because the club had not raised $400,000 by June 1.

The board told the club to bring a new plan before the board in July, and on July 8, the club asked the board to decide by July 22 if it would match the club’s $400,000.

By then, the club had raised $341,000 and received the equipment donation valued at $59,000.

The $341,000 included a $130,000 loan through First National Bank.

On July 22, the board voted to use $400,000 from the district’s Fund 10 balance to match the booster club’s donation of $400,000 in cash and equipment to the district for a fitness center.

The motion also included appointing a Sub Fitness Center Committee, charged with taking a further look at the fitness center proposal.

In the mean time, a district resident asked why the booster club had not follwed the district’s Matching Funds Program.

That program, approved on Feb. 14, 2005, “encourages individuals and organizations to support student learning and co-curricular activities through a matching gifts program.”

The guidelines include project proposal applications being submitted by contributing organizations or individuals proposing a matching fund gift no later than June 1 of the fiscal year prior to the proposed expenditure.

Some board members said the program was brought up last year when the booster club presented the fitness center proposal to the board.

The club was not told it needed to follow the guidelines of that program, but on Sept. 23, the board voted to rescind its July 22 motion, telling the club if it wants to donate $400,000 toward a new fitness center, it has to follow the Matching Funds Program.

When Loehrke said this week a value should not be included when the booster club donates the equipment to the district, Board Member Debi Bartel said, “I don’t understand why this is so suspicious.”

Kirk Delwiche, former elementary principal in the district, said, “These people have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the community.”

He asked Loehrke why he continues to persecute the booster club.

Loehrke said he does not see how the project is a priority for the district.

His wife, Rachel, said she used the model numbers of the equipment to find out the value of the fitness equipment and found the value to be lower than the figure used by the club.

“The value of the equipment is in question,” she said.

Cullen said he would like to see that number, and Loehrke told his fellow board members he plans to seek his own value of the equipment as well.

Cullen also told him he would like to see his numbers.

Delwiche said the vendetta some have against the booster club has “gone on long enough.”

He said the club has always been true to its word and said those speaking against it should think about the message they are sending not only to the club, but to the students.

Loehrke continued to ask if the fitness equipment donation comes with a dollar figure whether it would anticipate a match from the district.

“A guy donated it to the booster club. The booster club is donating it to the school district. We are not setting the price. If there is any question about the price, it is on the booster club,” Board Member Dan Kohl said.

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