A spring fling planned by the parent teacher organization in Mundelein District 75 appears to have the right ingredients for success with carnival games, food, bouncy houses, live band karaoke, inflatables, face painting, and a dunk tank among a lengthy list of activities.
Organizers hope to foster interaction within the school community and have some fun, but there is a more pressing purpose for the inaugural "It's a Spring Thing!" festival set for May 17 rain or shine.
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"We're doing it as a fundraiser. specifically to raise funds for technology at all three schools," said Nikki Earich, co-chair of the event to be held in the field behind Mechanics Grove Elementary School, 1200 N. Midlothian Road, Mundelein.
"This is very unusual that two parents went to the (District 75) board of education and said, `This is what we want to do and we'll give you all this money,'" Earich explained. "The caveat is we want it spent on technology."
Local businesses are covering the entire cost of the event, as well as donated food, booths, crafts and entertainment. An online auction featuring a variety of items begins Sunday and will continue at the event.
"It's sort of taken on a life of its own," Earich said. Organizers hope the event will raise as much as $10,000.
Whatever is raised will augment a substantial pending investment in technology the district will make in coming months.
The impetus for the fundraiser is the situation in which students share limited resources.
"I find it to be a little shocking," Earich said. "We have great teachers -- I have no complaints, my children are thriving. But I feel they need more tools."
District officials feel the same way, and a 21st Century learning team has been studying trends in teaching and the type of devices students will need to excel. Findings and recommendations will be presented May 19 to the school board, said Dana Smith, director of educational support services.
"What we're finding, frankly, is we don't have enough devices for the teachers to check out ... and get them into the hands of students for long-term projects," he said.
Since putting white boards in all classrooms, equipping teachers with laptops and placing MacBook and iPad carts -- each holding 30 devices -- in buildings a few years ago, there has been no investment in technology, Smith added.
That's about to change. The district will match a low-interest loan of about $265,000 it recently received from the state and will make purchases this summer. Students are expected to be better equipped to begin the 2014-15 school year.
But it will take time to outfit 1,550 students with the equipment they need to learn effectively, Smtih added.
"It's expensive. It may take us a couple of years but we want it to be sustainable," he said of the investment.