LOWER EAST SIDE — More than 350 elementary school students rallied on Henry Street on the Lower East Side Wednesday against massive proposed cuts to the city's after-school programs.
Under Mayor Bloomberg's budget plan, funding would be eliminated for more than 200 after school-programs serving about 27,000 elementary and middle school students across the city starting the next school year.
"Parents need after-school [programs] so they can work," said Diane Rubin, Chief Program Officer of the Henry Street Settlement, which serves about 600 children in the Lower East Side and East Village. "So children have a safe place to be."
Henry Street Settlement said the cuts would impact their ability to provide programs at five schools, P.S. 110, 134, and 20, as well as the Helen Hall Youth Center and Boys & Girls Republic.
"The city needs to provide more funding so children will have a space to be," Rubin said.
She added that it only costs the city $2,000 per child for 10 months of after-school programs.
"It's priorities," Rubin said. "Children are our future."
Mayor Bloomberg's budget did avoid teacher layoffs, with nearly 2,600 teaching position that had been slated for elimination being spared.
“Certainly, we have been living above our means, and there’s a correction taking place," Bloomberg said when he presented the budget on May 3.
Rubin said her organization will seek new funding sources and other opportunities in case they do lose city funding.
The City Council has until June 30 to approve the budget. Hearings on the proposal start May 14.