The booster clubs for Pekin District 303 athletics programs have joined forces to make sure that funding for programs are equitable for all.

In the past, eight booster clubs at the school have operated independent of one another to raise funds for extra items the district could not afford to buy for the teams.

The Pekin Community High School Dragon Athletic Booster Club is the result of the work of the school board and administration, the leadership from former booster clubs and coaches. The new booster club will begin service on July 1 for all sports teams, including dance and cheerleading.

The booster club will have a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. June 29 at the pillar entrance of the high school.

Booster President Bill Cash said he has been involved with booster clubs for 10 to 12 years.

“Hopefully with this going into one booster club, it’s not only going to help all of those other (PCHS) teams that really couldn’t have a booster club but I think my vision is we’re going to do even better than what we did before with just individual booster clubs,” said Cash. “This is the right thing to do for all of the programs.

“Let’s just get through it — do it the right way and lets prove to everyone that we can all work together, and this will work out to be an even bigger and better opportunity for everybody. And everybody will be there to support each other, which is important too.”

Over the past year, the organization put together rules and regulations for fundraising. As such, the boosters are about more than money for athletic needs. Its goal is to “support, encourage, promote and raise funds for all athletic programs at the school for the benefit of all athletes, the school and the community,” according to a press release. “The boosters will promote public consciousness of the athletic activities of the school and to promote good sportsmanship on the part of the participants and spectators of all athletic activities of the school.”

Superintendent Danielle Owens said in a press release that equity was the number one goal in the unification, but that too many “fund-raisers have been done in the community that pit athletes and parents against one another, while over-soliciting businesses and community members for support of our extracurricular programs.”

“Obviously, certain parents had more of a capacity to raise money than others, and you’re going to raise more money with 100 football player than with 15 cross country runners,” said Owens.

In 2015, a school coach filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against the district for inequality for females in programming, locker rooms and facility usage. The coach said female athletes were being discriminated against. Since then, a new softball diamond with concession stand was built on campus for female players, locker rooms renovated and now booster clubs combined to make all sport funding equitable.

The final resolution to those issues is nearing, said Owens. The OCR last week requested one last piece of information from Owens. A potential agreement has been reached that would require the district to deal with any issues if the need arises.

The new boosters have corporate sponsorship packages available that will provide advertising for the donor and incentives. In the past, boosters for different sports would individually go to local businesses. Membership packages are also available for individuals and families to support the athletic programs. Membership will run July to June each year and will be available at student registration, coaches meetings and online.

Volunteers are being sought in many areas of the organization from fundraising to concessions.