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YMCA after-school in Weston Ranch could start in May
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WESON RANCH — The YMCA of San Joaquin County could start offering after-school and summer program services in Weston Ranch as early as May 28.

In a 6-1 vote, the Manteca Unified Board of Trustees awarded the program to the Y despite vocally intense efforts by Trustee Sam Fant to sway the vote in favor of the Boys & Girls Club of Stockton. Fant, who represents District Area 1 which is Weston Ranch, cast the lone dissenting vote.

The board majority took into consideration district staff’s recommendation to choose the Y which scored higher in the areas of joint-use facilities and budget based on the rubric that was used in the evaluation of the two organizations’ proposals requested by the district. Both non-profit groups offered to take on the after-school programs in Weston Ranch at zero cost to the district through scholarships and sponsorships offered to youth program participants.

“It looks like the Y is more ready to step in,” commented Trustee Evelyn Moore.

Courney Fritchen, a Weston Ranch High graduate and resident of the community in French Camp which is now part of the incorporated City of Stockton, was one of three speakers who commented in favor of the Y. She said the Y already has swimming instructors certified which means no extra time and money will be needed to get the program launched this summer. As one who used to go to either Manteca or Stockton for after-school and summer activities, Fritchen said she was happy to see these programs become available to the youth in her community.

Trustee Deborah Romero saw both the Y and Boys and Girls Club as an asset to Weston Ranch. “I’m excited over whoever we choose” because of what each organization can do to the community, she said.

“I believe the YMCA is a great organization,” commented Trustee Manuel Medeiros.

Fant’s major concern, and why he favored Boys and Girls Club, was this youth organization’s “lower fees.” The club’s proposal included open recreational swim that would be open to everyone. The Y’s similar offering charges $2 per day. But Y program manager Jon Thomas explained that these expenses could be offset by scholarships and sponsorships, which is the way they are doing right now.

In trying to say the board’s vote, Fant pointed out that just because the rubric-based evaluation that district staff used in making their recommendation throws the Y in good light does not mean it is the better organization for running the program.

“I’m asking the board to support (Boys and Girls Club). What looks good on paper doesn’t translate to actual (performance),” he said.

He added, “I’ve worked with the Boys and Girls Club (Stockton) for seven years. (The organization’s) standards are higher. They’re able to relate to the community. But that’s not taking away the good stuff that Y does to the community.”

In response to Fant’s comment, Manteca resident Karen Pearsall said she understood the Weston Ranch district’s trustee but, she said directly addressing Fant, “As you said, both organizations are good. Give the Y the opportunity to prove themselves.”

Under the Y’s proposal, the after-school swimming program would be utilizing the pool at Weston Ranch High School.

Board President Don Scholl said both the Y and Boys & Girls Club have “admirable intentions,” but he would like to see three areas of concern addressed in the Memorandum of Understanding that is the next step in finalizing the contract between the district and the Y. First, he would like to make sure that the district’s legal risks are covered when it comes to safety issues; second, that there would be a level of insurance to protect the district from risks; and, third, any potential conflicts with other service agencies offering after-school programs such as Give Every Child a Chance would be addressed.

Superintendent Jason Messer said all these points will be addressed in the MOU which, when finished, will come back before the board for approval.

“I don’t want to delay the program and not see it start in June,” Scholl said.

At one point, after the lengthy discussion over this agenda item stretched to over an hour, Scholl commented, “We should put the discussion to a close.”

Trustee Manuel Medeiros seconded Scholl’s comment and said, “We’ve been speaking on this for an hour.”

“But the item deserves discussion,” stated Fant.