Beaufort Boys & Girls Club still needs support to stay afloat

info@islandpacket.comMarch 18, 2013 

The community is fortunate that two Beaufort organizations that need a hand have found a way to help each other.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Beaufort Area plans to lease space at its Boundary Street headquarters to a new charter school that plans to open this fall, Bridges Preparatory School.

The school intends to buy land and build a permanent location north of the Broad River, but that cannot be done before opening for the 2013-14 school year. The school needs a building.

And the Boys & Girls Club needs the money a lease will bring. A year ago, the club announced cuts in programming to stem a year-end deficit projected to be $213,000.

At about the same time, the charter school proposal was accepted into the statewide charter school district. The board made up of local parents announced plans to open the school this fall for 360 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Topping its long list of things to do was to find a head of school and a building. It will have done both when details are finished with its proposed one-year lease with the Boys & Girls Club.

Bridges Preparatory School leaders say the Boys & Girls Club is centrally located and will offer convenient after-school programs for students. The building is not fully used during school hours, and club leaders say having the charter school there won't interfere with the club's after-school and summer programs.

City officials should use the lead time to plan for the traffic impact of a 360-student school at the club.

The club was able to balance its budget by the beginning of the current fiscal year, the director said. That was a significant turnaround from recent years, in which the club overspent its shrinking revenue and used up most of its savings.

Community support for the nonprofit club must increase. The Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head Island communities all have made Boys & Girls clubs a top priority by raising money for nice buildings and keeping the doors open in hard economic times. That commitment cannot let up if the clubs are to offer positive alternatives to children, especially in the afternoon hours when a lot of bad things can happen to unsupervised children.

The Beaufort club still must balance what it offers against the revenue it can generate -- beyond the temporary arrangement with the charter school.

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