One downstate school district’s experience may be a warning for any government body looking to cash in on old debt.

Galesburg Community Unit School District (CUSD) 205 hoped to get most of the $216,000 the district said parents owed in unpaid student fees when it turned to a debt collector earlier this year.

Instead, Superintendent Ralph Grimm said the district got a bit of egg on its face.

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"We had some folks who maybe weren't aware...We also found out we had some glitches in our system,” Grimm said. “Frankly, honestly, we thought notifications were going out to parents. In some cases, they weren't."

Grimm said the district also found a number of mistakes on its old debt list

"Have we collected a bunch of money? No,” Grimm said. “Have we found out that we made mistakes? Yeah. Have we created a bunch of goodwill because of that? Sure we have," Grimm said.

But Galesburg's experience could be a cautionary tale. A number of local governments are looking at similar collection efforts on old debt -- in some cases, going back decades.

(Copyright WBGZ /