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Youth Club to Be Built at School

The $1.25-million Boys & Girls facility, which may open by September, will be the nonprofit organization's first in Thousand Oaks.

May 29, 2003|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

Construction of the first Boys & Girls Club in Thousand Oaks will begin this summer on the campus of Los Cerritos Middle School, following a vote this week by the school board.

The $1.25-million facility, to be built near the school's gym, will be constructed from 14 modular units that will have a stucco exterior. Officials say the building could open by September.

"We've expanded the square footage of our school by 10,000 square feet," said Robert Fraisse, superintendent of the Conejo Valley Unified School District. "We think these partnerships work for maximizing everybody's budget."

The 15-year joint-venture agreement between the district and the Boys & Girls Club of Conejo and Las Virgenes requires the nonprofit organization to pay all costs, including construction, landscaping and maintenance, and to make the facility available for instructional use during the school day. The club will be open from 7 a.m. until classes begin and after school from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. It will maintain those hours during summer vacations and school holidays.

The facility will have a homework room, tutoring room, lounge, snack area, pool table and a dance-gymnastics room. The cost to participate in before- and after-school programs will be $75 to $100 per month.

Fraisse said the district negotiated several changes to the club's design and operation, including making a computer lab larger to accommodate more students and requiring the dance room to be expanded to allow for ballet and modern dance classes.

In response to residents' fears about additional traffic and parking problems, a 31-space parking lot will be added to the campus. Club membership, which costs $25 a year, will be restricted to those attending Los Cerritos, which officials say should reduce congestion

Ronnie Hewett, the youth organization's president and chief professional officer, said some of the club's opponents lived outside the neighborhood and don't have children attending the school.

"We're very excited that the school board voted 5 to 0 in favor of our project," he said. "Now it's time to move forward and do what we do best, and that's serve kids."

The nonprofit club will begin summer recreation and educational programs at Los Cerritos on June 16, and will offer arts and crafts, field trips, leadership classes and sports programs by renting the school's gym, multipurpose room and a few classrooms, Hewett said. That program will cost participants $50 a week. The club hopes to sign up a minimum of 50 children during the summer and expects to be used by 100 to 150 children each school day.

The Boys & Girls Club of Conejo and Las Virgenes hopes to eventually build six clubs as part of a $12-million construction campaign, which has attracted a $3-million pledge from Amgen Inc. and $1 million from the city of Thousand Oaks.

The city agreed to spend up to $250,000 each to support clubs at Los Cerritos, Colina, Redwood and Sequoia middle schools. The other two clubs would be built either in Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Oak Park or Westlake Village.

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