Taft HS cuts ties with foundation
by BRIAN NADIG
Taft High School is cutting ties with a fund-raising foundation that has donated a reported $67,000 in goods and services to the school since 2013.
On July 17, school administrators posted an announcement on Taft’s Web site stating that the school no longer recognizes the Taft High School Foundation.
There reportedly have been disagreements between the school and the foundation, but additional information was unavailable. The creation of a new fund-raising group for the school may be in the works.
"(Taft) does not recognize the organization known as ‘The Taft High School Foundation.’ We do not support any of its fund-raising activities and cannot guarantee that any funds raised by the Taft High School Foundation will benefit William Howard Taft High School or any other CPS institution.
"We do not endorse any activities or events supported by the Taft High School Foundation including its 2019 Hall of Fame," the school’s statement said
"I’m extremely perplexed," foundation president and founder Richard Winge said of the school’s statement. "Over the years they gladly and willingly accepted all of this … tens of thousands of dollars of goods and services … and they thanked us."
Winge said that the school’s statement sheds a "false light" on the foundation given its accomplishments since being formed in 2013.
The foundation has donated two pianos to the school and funded improvements to Taft’s black box theater and other areas of the school, including the refurbishment of gymnasium floors and the painting of the football locker room, Winge said.
The foundation also created a Taft hall of fame, which is separate from the one being operated by the Taft Alumni Association, which honors former teachers, students and athletic teams. The foundation plans to hold a banquet this fall honoring the new inductees.
Winge said that he suspects the school’s decision may stem in part from a controversy which arose when the Norwood Park School Educational Foundation in 2017 donated $45,000 to the Taft foundation. The Taft foundation later transferred the money to Norwood Park School.
Some Norwood Park parents objected and demanded that the funds go to the elementary school and not Taft.
The Norwood Park foundation had raised about $1 million between 2005 and 2010 but stopped fund-raising after a reported dispute between school officials on how the funds should be spent. The Norwood Park foundation had been disbursing its remaining funds to the elementary school based on a payment schedule which reportedly had been recommended by the Chicago Public Schools law department.
Winge has said that he does not understand why the Taft foundation was asked to be the conduit for the $45,000 donation instead of the Norwood Park foundation giving it directly to the high school.
Meanwhile, it was reported at the July 9 meeting of the Taft School Local School Council that there are preliminary plans to create a "Friends of Taft" organization, which would focus on grant writing and soliciting donations and endowments from alumni.
It also was reported that some parents have expressed interest in creating a Taft booster club which would raise funds for the school’s sports and other extracurricular activities and help promote those programs.