Boys and Girls Club granted access to empty school building

Thursday, January 21, 2010 | 6:31 p.m. CST; updated 11:13 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 21, 2010

COLUMBIA — The Columbia School Board has unanimously approved a partnership with the Columbia Boys and Girls Club, allotting meeting space and funding for the club’s before- and after-school activities.

The Boys and Girls Club will have access to the now-closed Field Elementary School’s gymnasium and certain classrooms for the upcoming semester. The groups are still discussing use of the media room.

At a Thursday morning meeting, the board also approved a one-time award of $26,000 to cover custodial work and other necessary spending to keep the building in operation until May, said Jack Jensen, assistant superintendent for elementary education.

The agreement is not an unusual one; the school district often partners with groups that benefit its children, Jensen said.

“The Boys and Girls Club serves students in Columbia Public Schools and provides them with an opportunity to have safe and enriching opportunities,” said Michelle Baumstark, the district's community relations coordinator.

Students from Field Elementary School moved to the new Lewis Elementary School this month, leaving Field unused.

“The building does not have day-to-day classes going on, so we thought this agreement gave the Boys and Girls Club a good opportunity to expand their programming while we begin to work on what we will use Field for next year,” Jensen said.

The partnership is expected to benefit both the Boys and Girls Club and Columbia Public Schools.

“They have a long waiting list of students they would like to serve, and the current facility won’t allow them to do that,” Baumstark said.

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