Sandra Whitten, the Interim Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central North Carolina addressed the Henderson City Council on Monday evening regarding funding for its program at Eaton-Johnson Middle School.
The program at EJMS has been funded for the past two years with a grant from the North Carolina Department of Justice. It has annual budget of $70,000, not including summer operation which is paid for out of local BGC funds.
The program, according to Whitten, is serving 284 enrolled children.
Whitten went on to ask the council for $15,000 to fund the first half of the first semester. She said that without assistance from the community, the organization will have no choice but to close the program.
“It’s a very serious occasion,” Whitten told members.
Vance Unit Board President Ken Long told council members that the program gives a great deal of help to the kids.
“We take care of them and teach them,” Long said.
Program Director April Scott told the city council that the program is “not a day care, but a youth development center”, with a focus on career education, gang prevention, college preparation, and resisting drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
Member Mike Inscoe asked if there is any “overlapping” with the city’s Weed & Seed program. Whitten replied that there is none.
Council member Mary Emma Evans asked generally if the city has funds anyplace where “we could perhaps think about it”.
Henderson Mayor Pete O’Geary said that he thought it was best to turn the matter over to City Manager Ray Griffin to see “if he can pull some funds”. He went on to tell the BGC delegation that he realizes how important [the program] is and how many children [it] helps.
Long told the council that a decision has to be made before the start of school in order to let the school system prepare to host the program.
BGC currently runs programs at EJMS, E.M. Rollins Elementary School, and L.B. Yancey Elementary School. The middle school program is the only one slated to be immediately affected by state budget cuts.
According to O’Geary, the issue will be addressed at the next meeting of the council. That meeting will take place on Monday, August 10, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. School begins for students on Tuesday, August 25, 2009.