Ripon School Board member Gary Rodman, with back to camera, asks a question of Boys & Girls Club staff and volunteers. Tim Lyke photo
Ripon School Board member Gary Rodman, with back to camera, asks a question of Boys & Girls Club staff and volunteers. Tim Lyke photo

     Sadly, the Ripon Area School Board likely will vote March 25 against partnering with the Boys & Girls Club (BGC) of the Tri-County Area.

     The board could have played midwife to one of the state’s finest youth programs by adding a BGC that Murray Park Elementary guidance counselor Emmy Marvin noted literally “can change a community for the better.”

     The Ripon Area School District (RASD) runs BRAVE, a terrific, time-tested academic enrichment program. The Boys & Girls Club of the Tri-County Area offers a whole-child development program whose 96.11 financial-performance ranking is outpaced only by its accountability and transparency score of 97 (source: Charity Navigator).

     Perhaps this marriage of two youth programs was ill-fated from the start; neither’s overseers was willing to cede control of the amalgam.

     That’s unfortunate for Ripon children and parents. Now they may have to choose between two fine after-school offerings that, working in tandem, would have created an ideal situation for local youngsters.    

     Also disappointing is that some School Board members will vote with fundamental misunderstandings of the BGC’s mission and motivation.

     This was evident on the evening of March 4 after the board took a break following a two-hour meeting with BGC representatives. It neglected to tell the audience that further discussion would ensue, so the BGC folks vacated. This enabled School Board members to share their concerns candidly, with some comments unfounded.

     Themes of the third-hour were a spirited defense of BRAVE and, at times, almost jaundiced view of the BGC’s intentions. ...

     BGC could help preserve if not grow BRAVE while expanding after-school programming to address the district’s burgeoning problem with students’ emotional/social issues, and do so while gradually subsidizing a program now run exclusively on the public’s dime.

     In one proposal it responded to the RASD’s resistance to offering Fund 80 support (community fund dollars that now largely finance BRAVE) by offering to pay for the program independently. This would have retained BRAVE, provided parents with a quality whole-child wraparound program and saved taxpayers money. ...

                                                       — Tim Lyke

     Editor’s note: Tim Lyke served on the original steering committee for a Ripon Boys & Girls Club. His brother, Andy, is Ripon Area School Board president. His wife, Mary, is vice president of the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Club of the Tri-County Area. 

     To read the entire editorial, see the March 14, 2019 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.