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updated: 1/11/2012 11:31 PM

District 200 parents submit plans for athletic complex

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Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 officials are reviewing a proposal for major improvements to the athletic facilities at Wheaton Warrenville South High School.

A group of 10 parents submitted the proposal, envisioning an overhaul that includes a new softball field, practice field for the football team and a lacrosse field with artificial turf.

Paul Molino, the head of the 501(c) group established to develop the plan -- called the Red Grange Athletic Complex Fund -- said the overhaul wouldn't just impact a narrow group of athletes.

"We see these improvements as benefiting not only the athletic programs, but the marching band and actually the entire school itself," said Molino, citing possible use of the new facilities by intramural teams and the Wheaton Park District.

Molino, a Chicago attorney and parent of two daughters at the high school, said fundraising would target alumni, current families, local businesses and corporate sponsorships.

At a board meeting Wednesday night, district officials said they would review the proposal before giving approval to move forward with the project. Officials will continue to discuss the plan at the next board meeting Feb. 8 at Monroe Middle School.

If the group receives the go-ahead from the board, the next step would be to hire a professional fundraising firm. The group has partnered with the DuPage Community Foundation in its search for a firm, Molino said.

Then, the firm would conduct a survey of potential donors who might be more persuaded if funds target programs for the classroom, as well. Molino is unsure of how many thousands, if not millions, the group can raise.

"If it turns out that the feedback we get back says you have a better chance of raising money for this if there's an educational aspect to it, that's something we'll clearly take into consideration," Molino said.

Board member Joann Coghill praised the effort.

"I was so impressed by their commitment to improve one of our facilities," Coghill said during the meeting. "It seems very professional and well-thought out."

However, board member Ken Knicker expressed concerns on how the fundraising could overlook other facilities in the district at Wheaton North High School.

"It would be nice to have those kinds of things for all of our students and the community to take advantage," Knicker said.

Superintendent Brian Harris emphasized that the plan is in its infancy. A potential donation would be added to the district's operations and maintenance fund, Harris said. Future discussions with the group will determine how the funds are administered.

"It's pretty raw at this point," he said.

Anyone interested in the fund should contact Molino at

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