In Jackson Heights, representatives, parents and children rallied to save the 82nd Street Academics program, which serves 160 students at P.S. 69.
In Woodside, residents gathered to show support for Woodside on the Move’s after-school programs at P.S. 11 and P.S. 152, which are in jeopardy of losing roughly $1.3 million in city funding.
The mayor's budget proposes slashing after-school programs by $18 million, or 50 percent, meaning 27,000 less students will be served, according to Councilman Daniel Dromm's office. The budget will be finalized by the end of June.
Last fall, the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) submitted requests for proposals from organizations to provide after school programs, known as Out-of-School Time, in elementary and middle schools.
This September, 224 programs will be operated by 95 community-based organizations located throughout the city, according to Cathleen Collins, a DYCD representative.
The new programs will serve more than 25,000 of New York City’s elementary and middle school students, 70 percent of which will be in high-need areas, she said.
“The city will continue to provide high-quality, comprehensive services to our students through the Out of School Time program, and we are working within our financial reality to do so,” she said.
But representatives and parents are still concerned about losing their local programs.
Speakers at a rally for 82nd Street Academics said an RFP from Goodwill was chosen for Jackson Heights, even though there is no presence from the company in the area.
State Senator Jose Peralta spoke at the rally, where children displayed signs showing what they've learned in their 82nd Street Academics program, including respect, kindness, patience, generosity and self-confidence.
“As a father who has a child in an after-school program, I don't know what I would do if that program was cut, I don't where I would leave my son,” Peralta said. “This is a story that many parents would have to go through because if these programs are cut, if the $18 million are not restored, then they're going have so many people, so many children, so many parents not knowing what to do with their children.”
Adrian Bordoni, executive director of Woodside on the Move, which was founded in 1976 and serves middle and low-income families in Western Queens, said 800 students in their programs at P.S. 11 and P.S. 152 could suffer from the budget cuts.
That equates to 500 families during the school year, 300 over the summer, and more than 50 staff members.
“We're looking at a domino effect, where we're not going to be able to purchase from the local vendors,” he said. “Parents are going to have to quit their jobs because they’re not going to have a space to drop their kids off.”
The after-school programs, Bordoni said, offer theater, dance, homework help, engineering classes, business enterprise and financial management instruction, cultural programs, and other extracurricular activities.
“All these vital programs that help them develop properly socially are going to disappear,” he said.