In a recent press release, Councilman Vincent Gentile criticized Mayor Bloomberg’s “severe cuts to Out of School Time (OST) programs for elementary school students,” referring to cutbacks to the afterschool/daycare program as an “all-out war on children.”
“With inconceivable cuts such as these, the Mayor is basically telling 50,000 kids to go take a hike,” Councilman Gentile told Bay Ridge Odyssey. “New York is one of the most expensive cities to live in and after-school programming and childcare is of utmost concern for most working parents. This is really just further proof that our Mayor has absolutely no concept of reality.”
Councilman Gentile put the latest cutbacks in context by citing the recent cuts to another after school program that affects Bay Ridge. The closing of seven Beacon Community Centers – including one at Bay Ridge’s McKinley I.S. 259 means one less place for children to go for “homework help, drama, computer classes, sports activities, etc. – six days a week.”
The Councilman questioned the logic of closing such successful programs, “many of which have been replicated nationwide and credited with reducing the rate of high school drop outs.”
The most recent cuts to the OST program are expected to be felt throughout Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, and Dyker Heights.
According to Gentile’s office, 1,500 children across four other schools within Community Boards 10 and 11 will be affected. Schools expected to shutter their programs include PS 102 the Bayview School, PS 186 the Dr. Irving A Gladstone School, PS 229 the Dyker School and PS 200 the Benson School.
The press release ended on a populist note, making reference to the mostly working and middle class residents of Southwest Brooklyn who, while struggling in the present economy, do not qualify for many city programs – which tend to be for the very poor.
“The bottom line is that the neighborhoods I serve don’t qualify for many city services and I’m not going to stand for the City taking away funds for the few we do qualify for,” Councilman Gentile continued. “Today I am calling on our community to stand together to send a message to the Mayor that our children are important, and we will stand and fight for the services they need.”
Councilman Gentile is urging parents and neighbors to call 311 and write Mayor Bloomberg to let him know exactly how you feel about these cuts. Gentile is requesting his constituents to send him a copy of any letters written to Mayor Bloomberg. According to the press release, he will be keeping track of the letters and deliver them to Mayor Bloomberg, along with an online petition to keep the Beacon program at McKinley active [Hat tip to Kip at Bay Ridge Journal].