Florence might get after school program

Staff writer

An after-school program for Florence youth is in the works, but won’t be ready by the first day of school.

The program will be operated by Christian Church of Florence in a building owned by the city.

The site will be a building on the southeast corner of the now-closed Florence School campus that formerly housed the home economics department and also was used by the special education cooperative.

“It’s the brick building with all the windows with the south exposure,” said Florence council member Trayce Warner.

Unlike the main school building, which belongs to Marion County, the building intended for the after-school program belongs to the city of Florence.

John Branson, pastor of Christian Church of Florence, said the church had hoped to have the after-school program up and running by the first school day, but ran into a snag with its insurance company. Now they hope to begin the program after Labor Day.

The church’s insurance company is concerned about the building’s proximity to the dilapidated main school building, Branson said. The insurance adjuster recommended a six-foot fence to separate the small building from the main building.

County commissioners on Monday agreed to look into the cost of fencing and get back to Warner and Branson about it.

“We don’t have a lot of kids, but of them, we have a lot of those who might be leaning in that wrong direction,” Warner said. “John has developed a rapport with them.”

Branson said the church has had a Wednesday night after-school program for years. That will continue at the church.

With the additional location, which they plan to call “The ROCK,” they hope to expand the preschool through fifth-grade program to 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The younger kids’ program will include snacks, tutoring, and fun things to do, he said.

“As soon as they get off the bus, the first thing we’ll have is a snack and a drink to replenish their appetites,” Branson said.

The middle school through high school program will expand to 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“After 6 o’clock on any given day, there’s nothing open in Florence,” Branson said.

Last modified Aug. 18, 2016

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