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Boys and Girls Club details building plans for new facility

What would be the largest of six facilities for the Boys and Clubs of Central Virginia took another step Thursday as officials with the organization presented plans for the center to the Albemarle County School Board.

The two-story, 59,000 square-foot facility will serve students in the Albemarle-based Jack Jouett Club, and the School Board will vote on the plans at its Jan. 9 meeting.

Club CEO James Pierce said the facility will be a great addition to the campus. It’s near Jack Jouett Middle School and Greer Elementary off Lambs Lane.

Schools Superintendent Matt Haas agreed.

“I think the plans look great,” he said “ … It’s going to be great for the kids.”

Jason Buyaki, a School Board member attending his final member as the Rivanna magisterial district representative, said the design was clever.

“I’m impressed,” he said. “I like it.”

Pierce they tailored the building’s design to the site, which he described as “slopey.”

Jim Boyd, an architect with Grimm & Parker, said the building will bend in the middle to follow the topography of the site.

“We wanted to limit the amount of grading and have the least impact on the site,” he said.

The nonprofit is renting the land from the School Board for $1 a year as part of a 40-year lease approved in June.

“Our new Club is intentionally located in an area that we have known for a very long time has significant unmet need and growing poverty rates,” Pierce said. “Also, at least 1,000 young people in the county have been identified as needing access to out-of-school-time programming.”

Rosalyn Schmitt, the school division’s chief operations officer, said that she has been involved in some design meetings.

“In addition to meeting their program needs you will see that the design does not impact our existing operations or traffic flow,” she said. Its exterior is complementary to the surrounding buildings. But most importantly, the design and thought that went into it is student centered.”

The expanded Jouett club will be able to serve up to 300 students daily and 500 annually from kindergarten to 12th grade. An annual membership costs $35.

The new facility, expected to open in 2021, will provide programs after school and during the days in summers. Surrounding schools also will have access to some of the space.

The Jouett club currently serves about 200 students.

Activities for kindergartners through fifth graders will take place in the building’s youth wing, while older students will be in the teen wing. All students will have access to the main and auxiliary gyms.

Classroom space in both wings will be broken up into a variety of spaces, Boyd said, similar to renovations in Albemarle County schools.

The youth wing will be closest to outdoor play fields while the teens will have access to an outdoor learning space and, possibly, a garden. There’s also an outdoor hard surface for basketball, but Boyd said they wanted to pave as little of the site as possible.

Officials also are planning to include a makerspace on the first floor for STEM activities.

“It’s right in the heart of a building,” Boyd said.

Plans also include four squash courts.

“I want to highlight those because our lead donor is extremely interested in squash and lo and behold, so are our children,” Pierce said.

In June, Merrill and Jaffray Woodrif donated $13.5 million to the project.

Pierce said there’s a squash program currently at the Jouett club, and students reported it as a top program they didn’t want to go away.

“So we’re very happy to provide space specifically for squash,” he said.

The top level will include activity and classroom space while the sports will be on the lower level.

Boyd said glass walls on the upper level will also visits to see the gym and squash courts.

“When people arrive, they have a sense of what’s going on and see how active and vibrant the space is,” Boyd said.

Additionally, the spine of the building will be surrounded by glass, Boyd said.

“So students have a sense of what’s going in all the different spaces as well as those who are managing the programs,” he said.

Budget planning

At the School Board’s final work session of 2019, members started planning for the fiscal year 2021 budget.

Schmitt said the division already is projecting a $4 million funding gap to keep up with growing student enrollment and to cover other cost increases.

“That’s just maintaining current levels of service,” Schmitt said.

State funding is expected to increase slightly by $3.7 million. Local revenues are increasing as well, but as a slower rate than previous years, Schmitt said.

Cost increases include a 1.5% raise for teachers and classified staff, a half-percentage point reduction from a board meeting presentation in November.

“It’s a sobering number, but we will advocate and continue to look for options to increase that,” Schmitt said.

The division is currently operating on a $195.4 million budget.

Board members reviewed budget proposals from division staff and ranked their top 10.

Board chairman Jonno Alcaro asked if the board members should even make recommendations for proposals.

“Everything that we recommend will widen the gap,” he said.

Schmitt said the purpose of the work session was to see what the board’s priorities were.

“There are a lot of changing variables,” she said.

Near the end of the work session, they presented their top choices.

Board members supported the expansion of foreign language programs in elementary schools and of the division’s micro-credentialing program as well as hiring a counseling and mental health coordinator, among other proposals.

“That’s pretty much the No. 1 issue in close to all of the schools,” Alcaro said of the coordinator position.

A division summary said the coordinator would study the division’s counseling program, deployment of counselors and provide the “most tailored professional development possible toward a mentally healthy population of students and staff.”

Haas will present the funding request for the next fiscal year Jan. 23.


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