Council warns of screaming parents if city cuts after-school slots
A Council member painted a scene of screaming parents on the first day of school in September if the city cuts funding from after-school programs.
At a City Council meeting today, members discussed after-school programs for youth, which are in danger of being slashed under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year.
Advocates estimate 37,000 city-funded slots for kids are on the chopping block.
Councilman Lewis Fidler warned that parents would be irate to learn on the first day of school that their children’s after-school plans were slashed.
“The screaming, the yelling, the upset would have dwarfed almost everything we have heard,” he said at the hearing. “Let’s not go down that road.”
Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna said the mayor wants to keep as many after-school programs as possible.
“Can we afford to pay for as much as we would like, no, but we will be working with the Council to ensure we keep the budget balanced while providing as much of the services needed as possible,” he said.
Children flanked the City Hall steps before the hearing to rally for their programs.
Programs like leadership seminars, chess clubs or simply a safe spot for kids to stay until their parents get home are at risk, according the Campaign for Children, a coalition of child care and after-school programs.
One of the people testifying at the hearing was Pobo Ekeforo, part of the chess team at Brooklyn I.S. 318 featured in the documentary “Brooklyn Castle.”
“These programs are so important for our kids, to keep students off the streets, engage in fun, educational activities that are productive,” he told the Council.
Through the after-school chess program, he found his passion, he said.
Others made clear that students may not have a safe alternative outside of school — a representative from Safe Horizon, which helps women and families fleeing abuse, said they recently helped a girl who had been staying in the corners of Penn Station for months.