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YMCA, BOE part ways on after-school program

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The YMCA of Chilton County has ended its partnership with the Chilton County Board of Education.

Board member Jason Calhoun announced the decision to the Chilton County Board of Education in a statement on behalf of the YMCA board during a voting session on May 19.

“Together the board of education, Clanton Elementary and the YMCA have built a tremendous after-school program, one to be very proud of,” Calhoun read. “One that stands in a category by itself, but through all of this the integrity of the program and the leadership of two site coordinators have continued to be questioned and now we learn today that the attorney general’s office has now been contacted by you and your attorney for an investigation/ opinion. It is clear the board of education does not trust the way the program is being operated and obviously would like to see the program go in a different direction. Therefore, it is with great sadness and a deflated spirit that I inform you, the Board of Education, that the YMCA board of directors will not renew the partnership with Clanton Elementary and the Chilton County Board of Education.”

The YMCA will continue to offer an after-school program, but just what this will be is still being worked out.

In a statement released after a YMCA board meeting on May 20, the YMCA board of directors re-iterated its commitment to continue providing an after-school program.

“We are going to do whatever we can to help as many in this community as possible, in order to put Christian principles into practice that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all,” it said.

However, the board anticipates not being able to serve as many children as the Chilton County Children’s Club did.

The possibility of partnering with others in the community was mentioned.

The YMCA would be eligible to apply for the same grant funds that the Chilton County Children’s Club had previously received. However, this is a competitive grant.

“To the children of Chilton County and your parents, we are very sorry it has come to this, but we pledge our commitment to offer the best after-school program that we possibly can,” Calhoun stated during the meeting

Chilton County Board of Education chair Angie Sanderson responded to the statement.

“Just so we are clear, the attorney general’s office has not been contacted,” Sanderson said.

“Has there been a resolution created to send to the attorney general’s office for an opinion?” Calhoun asked.

After this question, board attorney Dianne Gamble said, “This is an opportunity for visitors to speak, not for board members to answer questions.”

A request for an attorney general’s opinion from a governing body usually has to be approved by resolution before being formally sent.

“This is a disgrace for our community and an embarrassment, and I regret for my family and for the children of this county, and it’s shameful,” Clanton Elementary Principal Rebecca Threkeld said on behalf of the Chilton County Children’s Club said.

The BOE has asked to see copies of the CCCC monthly audits and expressed concerns that the program was not equally accessible to all students. During a nearly two-hour work session on May 18, many questions were answered about the program and a recommendation to continue the partnership with some possible changes had been expected. In that meeting, Calhoun said the YMCA had no problem with showing the audit.

“We have nothing to hide, but we’re the fiscal agent,” Calhoun said. “We are responsible for it, It’s not your concern.”

This recommendation was removed from the May 19 agenda.