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Students and Parents Protest Proposed Cuts to Afterschool Programs

By Nicholas Rizzi | May 10, 2013 7:39am
 Parents, students and elected officials rallied against the mayor's proposed cuts to afterschool programs outside P.S. 57 in Clifton.
Afterschool Program Cut Rally at P.S. 57
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CLIFTON — Students, parents and workers rallied outside P.S. 57, Clifton, on Thursday to protest planned cuts by the city to child care and afterschool programs.

The last proposed budget of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration would cut almost $130 million and 700,000 hours from the afterschool programs city wide, Councilwomen Debi Rose said.

“These programs are not just recreational programs, they’re educational programs,” she said. “Without them, there will be a gap.”

Students and parents from programs and schools all over Staten Island came out to protest the cuts.

“That’s really not fair for the kids,” said Jina Khan, 40, who’s son Ali, 11, goes to the Beacon After-School Program at Tottenville High School.

“The kids over here are already paying so much, especially after Sandy, and the class sizes have become bigger,” she said. “They don’t have the help they need.”

If approved, the cuts would eliminate 200 child care seats, 411 early learning slots and 1,782 out of school time slots on Staten Island, Rose said.

“We will not accept any lose of one afterschool slot or day care slot,” Rose said. “We’re here just to send a strong message that these programs are essential.”

Last year, Rose held a similar rally when the mayor first threatened the cuts. She said she’s tired of having to fight for the same issue over and over again.

Khan said that her son, a student at I.S. 75, gets help for state tests at her program, especially in math and English.

“It’s a really great help,” she said. “It’s encouraging him as they grow. This is one great help for us.”

Joe Verhey, executive director of the YMCA in Staten Island, said that the afterschool programs give children a safe place to go to.

“There’s nothing complicated in giving a child a safe place to go to between the hours of three and six,” he said during the rally. “There’s nothing complicated in protecting children from unsupervised activity on the streets.”

Khan said she hopes the mayor hears parents' concerns, and she said she will continue to fight to save her son’s afterschool program.

“It’s a very great thing for us to have this program,” she said. “They should not even think about touching it.”