Shortly after 2 p.m. most weekdays, 42 pupils from Lamar-Milledge Elementary School hop off a bus on Division Street. Inside the E.W. Hagler Boys & Girls Club, the children start homework, eat a snack and play games.
An average of 155 students attend the center in Harrisburg neighborhood each day. Other buses arrive from Heritage Academy in downtown Augusta and Richmond County public schools.
The Hagler club, however, has reached an enrollment capacity and cannot accept children on its waiting list.
Kam Kyzer, the executive director of Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA, said growing numbers are not unique to the Hagler club. Enrollment has grown at the organization’s seven centers in the area.
As of Wednesday, 239 children had enrolled at the club since the start of the Richmond County school year. Compared with the same period in 2011, enrollment has jumped 62 percent, or by 95 children.
The Boys & Girls Clubs cannot enroll more children because funding levels limit staff numbers, Kyzer said. The organization maintains one staff member for every eight children in tutoring sessions.
“Based on the funding that we have, we are beyond maxed out,” she said. “We are trying hard to meet the demand.”
Sharon Meyers, a unit director of the Hagler center, said the increase is largely because of the August opening of Lamar-Milledge just a few blocks away. More students are back in Harrisburg, she said.
When John Milledge Elementary temporarily moved before merging with Lamar Elementary in a new school building, fewer children were enrolled at the Hagler Center, Meyers said. The center now has nine children on a waiting list.
High enrollment numbers aren’t attributed to a weak economy, Kyzer said, because family income levels of the students have remained steady.
Currently, 68 percent of the local Boys & Girls Clubs’ $3 million operating budget comes from state and federal grants. The organization can boost its enrollment only when grant funding or community giving increases, Kyzer said.