The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

    Budget cuts threaten preteens’ fun

    Two hours of sweat, shrieks and infinite possibilities. Every school year, local kids and preteens anxiously anticipate a spot in the Potomac Community Center’s (PCC) legendary Club Friday program. However, the program is threatened by county executive Isiah Leggett’s proposed fiscal budget cut, and is on the brink of vanishing as quickly as it had flourished.

    The popular Friday night program for children in grades 3-6 is held weekly from 7 to 9 p.m. at the PCC on Falls Road. From October to March, PCC hosts approximately 350 to 400 kids each week who can engage in activities such as dancing, sports, arts and crafts and more.  

    According to a Jan. 2007 Washington Post article, Club Friday was founded in 1991 by PCC director Linda Barlock after she vouched for a program that could entertain Potomac youth, while also being virtually costless for the county. Members are required to pay a $40 annual fee, and the club is supervised on a parent-volunteer system. However, the cost of keeping the center open additional hours is becoming a strain on the budget.

    “The primary cost of Club Friday is the part-time staffing,” Larry Chloupek, chairman of the board of Friends of the Potomac Community Center, Inc. said. “The talk of [closing it] centers on the dire budget crisis in the county and the need to make cuts across departments.”

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    A March 31 Gazette article reported that the potential cut of Club Friday is part of a proposed fiscal 2011 budget that seeks to close a $779 million budget gap in Montgomery County. These reductions could also cut other recreational activities that the PCC offers.

    Many Potomac community members are disappointed by Club Friday’s possible was permanent cancellation.

    “For me, it was a fun place where I could meet other kids my age,” said junior Hillary Tilles who used to attend Club Friday every week. “I met my best friend there.”

    Parents like Tilles agree that Club Friday is an essential outlet for kids that teaches them valuable social skills. With enormous amounts of structure and pressure in children’s lives today, Club Friday is a place for kids to relieve pent-up stress and energy, and it provides an opportunity for kids to interact with each other.

    “[Club Friday] is a fun experience for kids in a different, yet safe environment,” Tilles said.

    The PCC’s advisory board held a meeting Wed. April 14 where they discussed the possible fate of the club. While it is probable that Club Friday will be offered next year, it may not see a 2012 cycle. 

    “One of our top priorities at the meeting [was] to make sure the program would be offered in the fall of 2010,” Chloupek said.

    Club Friday will not be cut without a fight from the community. 

    “Parents are very supportive of this program,” Chloupek said. “If necessary, we will solicit support from the community if we feel the program will be cut.”

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    Budget cuts threaten preteens’ fun