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RACINE - Running in a multicolored tutu, Fratt Elementary School Principal Jim Hass might have been a sign of things to come.

Not in fashion terms, of course. He was only fulfilling his end of a bargain after students surpassed a fundraising goal for Saturday's Spirit Run/Walk.

But, as state aid cuts hit school budgets harder next year, event planner Patrick Flynn said school supporters will need to find new ways to help schools buy things they can't afford.

"The demand will be higher, so the PTAs will have to be more aggressive in raising funds," he said.

About 150 people signed up for the event, taking pledges to raise money for school projects or PTAs. Flynn said the schools keep all but 10 percent of the dollars they raised, with the rest going to the Racine PTA Council.

Fratt had the largest school group, raising more than $2,500 toward the ultimate goal of up to $40,000 for a new playground. Staff members said wooden equipment at the school at 3501 Kinzie Ave. has deteriorated to the point of danger.

"I really am nervous when kids are out there," Hass said.

First-grader Jada Johnson was among those who joined about 20 Fratt staff members in walking or running 5 or 10 kilometers along a route that began and ended ner the Kids' Cove playground at North Beach. One fourth-grade class had set up a store to sell pencils, candy, bracelets and other items to raise pledge money.

Though the holiday weekend kept some people away, participants said the run/walk is an efficient money-maker.

"It's better than selling the candy bars and all that stuff," said Carla Thillemann, a special education assistant at Fratt., the group that organized the event, also plans a bike ride fund-raiser Oct. 8. Its events are open to all nonprofits.

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