The Boys and Girls Club of Spokane County and the Central Valley School District are partnering in an effort to turn the former Keystone Elementary on South McDonald Road into a center that will house an after-school club for kids along with the district’s social services programs.
The district’s Family Engagement Center will include public meeting space as well as offices for the district’s social workers, homeless liaison and foster care advocate.
Boys and Girls Club executive director Dick Hanlin said his organization’s first logo was a torch inside of a keystone, so it seems only fitting that the organization will find its new location in what was Keystone Elementary.
“We may have to incorporate the name because of its history,” he said.
Spokane Valley has been the state’s largest city without a Boys and Girls Club and people have often asked for one there, Hanlin said. His organization currently has two clubs, one in north Spokane and one in Mead.
“The other two clubs have been serving Spokane Valley kids for years, particularly in the summer,” he said.
Keystone Elementary opened in 1970 and closed in 2003. It was the home for Summit School for several years and beginning in 2015 it housed the students of several different schools while their schools were under construction.
Now that the building isn’t needed for that task the district wanted to look for the best way to use it, said Terrie VanderWegen assistant superintendent of learning and teaching, The district put out a request for qualifications in April looking for an organization that could provide wrap-around services for students.
“That collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club was just a natural fit for us,” VanderWegen said. “The vision has always been that we wanted to provide something for our community.”
School board member Debbie Long said it was important to the district to still use the building to serve children even though it can’t be used as a school anymore.
“This is about our community and our kids,” she said. “This is going to make a difference. If you’re a single parent, this is so important.”
The Boys and Girls Club has signed a 10-year renewable lease agreeing to pay the district $1 per year to lease the building. The club has also agreed to pay all the utilities.
“We didn’t want to create a burden for the district,” Hanlin said.
The club is also responsible for making needed improvements to the building, including a new roof and a heating system.
“This facility will need some upgrades,” Hanlin said. “We’re in fundraising mode.”
Hanlin said he hopes to raise between $2.5 and $5 million. If the group is able to raise the full $5 million the plan is to build a full-size gym to add to the small one the school currently has, he said.
Several donors have already stepped up, Hanlin said, including Numerica, Union Pacific and the Safeco Education Fund. That money is being used to design the project.
The Spokane Valley Boys and Girls Club, which doesn’t yet have a name, will offer after-school programs as well as day camps during school breaks and the summer. Hanlin said he expects to serve between 200 and 300 children a day.
Much of the former school will be devoted to the Boys and Girls Club. Hanlin said there will be an arts and crafts studio, a technology lab, a teen center, a science center, a game room and a tween center. The playground outside will remain and new equipment may be added, Hanlin said.
VanderWegen said the district also wants to be able to provide health care at the facility. “We’re hoping to have medical and dental and mental health,” she said. “It’s our greatest hope.”
The district and the club are excited to move forward with the partnership with the goal to open the doors by the end of 2020.
“It’s going to be a great asset to the community for generations to come,” Hanlin said.
Long said she hopes the facility will be heavily used.
“This is such a natural place to be,” she said. “This community will welcome it with open arms.”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.