Janesville31.8°

Vacant Albany school begins new life as community center

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GINA R. HEINE
November 10, 2007
— The Albany school always was opened for community events—whether it was Girl Scout meetings or church luncheons.

But now the district is taking that to the next level with the opening of a community center in the vacant 1922 school next door to the current one.


The building had been closed for more than a decade, but Superintendent Steve Guenther led a renovation over the last year. After many buckets of paint, new carpet and updating utilities, the center is ready.


“Now we’re just trying to fill it with people,” Guenther said.


The renovations feature an office for the new part-time activities director Julie Ruef and at least five classrooms to use for pretty much any activity, he said.


The school district has been working with the village and other community organizations to develop programming.


“It’s becoming a community effort,” Guenther said.


So far the center has been working to provide more for the organization of Junior Comets community youth basketball league. Mats will be set in one of the rooms, and the youth wrestling program will have a home. In spring, Guenther hopes to develop a youth soccer program and offer camps.


A rec room for kids offers pool tables and Ping-Pong, and Guenther is hoping to create an area with TVs and video games to form more after-school programs. From there, programming could expand to offer kids things to do on Friday and Saturday nights at the center.


Another group wants to run gymnastics, dance and cheerleading programs starting in January. A school secretary will instruct a quilting class while a tech ed teacher will supervise and run a project-based workshop in his classroom.


The $10,000 renovation project was made possible by the creation two years ago of a Fund 80, which is a community service fund for districts to offer education outside of the classroom, Guenther said.


“It’s providing the community opportunities whether it’s through facilities or actual service,” he said.


This school year, $20,000 was budgeted for the community center to cover utilities, the activities director salary, maintenance and other expenses.


Now all the center needs is the people. Anyone interested in instructing a class or activity can contact Ruef at (608) 862-3333.


“We are looking for anyone interested in running a program,” Guenther said. “We have facilities to meet pretty much any need.”



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