Boys and Girls Club faces space issue

Published 8:04 am Wednesday, January 7, 2009

FRANKLIN—The Boys and Girls Club of Franklin may be feeling a little pushed around lately after a decision was made to move the Franklin High School wrestling team’s practice into the program’s meeting space.

The reinstatement of Franklin High School’s vocational program last spring has resulted in a wave of unintended consequences, including some serious rearranging of other schools’ extracurricular activities.

First, the Franklin High School Robotics Team had to vacate campus space needed by the vocational program. The school board decided the team could have the Charles Street Gym to carry on its activities.

However, that decision meant that the FHS wrestling team would be moved from the Charles Street gym location to S.P. Morton Elementary School .

Now, the Boys and Girls Club of Franklin, which meets at S.P. Morton, is feeling the squeeze.

“To move us away from the gymnasium puts us in a predicament,” said Boys and Girls Club’s board of directors president Ellis Crum. “Not only do we not have a space to exercise the kids, we could lose some of the $46,000 in grant funds we received to combat the problem of childhood obesity.”

Crum said he believes some of the funding from the Healthy Kids Initiative may be contingent upon having ample space to run the programs the clubs have dedicated to the issue.

“Boys and Girls clubs are always fighting a funding battle,” he said. “I’m not sure what we will do if we lose any funds.”

According to Daniel Johnson, head coach of the wrestling team, the team will only need the space at the elementary school for about six to eight weeks.

“Our season lasts from November to February, so we won’t be there long,” he said.

Crum said school officials have worked hard to accommodate the club’s program until then.

“Someone asked me, ‘How do you displace 135 kids for a 10 to 15 wrestlers?’ But, we are going to make do,” he said, adding that the school’s principal, Don Spengeman, has been trying to help locate an area for the kids.

“Mr. Spengeman is looking for additional space to house the children,” Crum said.

“We’ll find a way to make it work,” Spengeman said.

John Mack , executive director of the Southeast Virginia Boys and Girls Club, said he is unsure about what the displacement will mean for the program.

“If the program has to go away for eight weeks, it will put us in a trying position,” he said.

However, Mack said he is grateful for cooperation with the Franklin School system.

“We have proven that we are valuable to the community through the result of improved test scores and other positive impacts,” he said. “I believe we will be able to work out a solution with the schools.”