TriBeCa's P.S. 150 Could Lose After-School Program to Budget Cuts
By Julie Shapiro
TRIBECA — P.S. 150 is in danger of losing its popular after-school program because of budget cuts.
The state's preliminary budget slashes all funding to the TriBeCa school, along with 49 other programs across the state, according to Manhattan Youth, which runs P.S. 150's program.
"This funding is very important," said Theseus Roche, Manhattan Youth's after-school director. "P.S. 150 attracts kids from all over, [many] with middle-class, working parents who cannot pick up their kids at 3 o'clock."
The $58,600 annual grant from the state currently allows Manhattan Youth to offer financial aid to families who cannot afford the $325 monthly fee for the five-day-a-week program.
"People think of it as a rich TriBeCa school," said Brian Fingeret, president of P.S. 150's PTA. "But that's just a small percentage [of the students]. Many parents need an affordable place to put their kids."
Each week, about 70 children, or nearly half of P.S. 150's student body, attend the after-school program, taking classes in soccer, basketball, chess and painting. Children can also walk a few blocks to the Downtown Community Center to participate in an even broader range of activities, from filmmaking and stage combat to yoga and hip-hop.
P.S. 150's small size and diverse population make it harder for the program to sustain itself financially, Roche said. A similar program at P.S. 234 draws nearly four times as many students each day and makes enough money to support its staff.
But P.S. 150's program has always struggled to make ends meet. Manhattan Youth took over the after-school classes in 1996 after other service providers dropped out, said Bob Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth.
Townley only just found out about the state funding cut recently, and he plans to fight it.
One option would be to spread the cuts over the hundreds of after-school programs across the state, rather than singling out the 50 programs, including P.S. 150, whose contracts were up this year, Townley said.
Community Board 1's Youth and Education Committee passed a resolution last week urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature to find a way around the cuts.
A spokesman for the state's budget office said it was too early to talk about details of the reductions. The state is actually increasing its funding to after-school programs, but not enough to make up for the loss of federal stimulus money this year, the spokesman said.