Local Pols Bemoan Bloomberg’s After-School Cuts

IMG_3290Stephen Rex Brown One of the many students at yesterday’s rally against the cuts to after-school programs.

A panoply of politicians blasted Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to slash funding for after-school programs citywide yesterday, saying the cuts would have a particular impact on the Lower East Side.

“It’s outrageous,” said Councilwoman Margret Chin, whose district would lose seven out of 10 of its after-school programs if Mr. Bloomberg’s budget proposal is approved in its current form. “He needs to look at these kids and say, ‘You don’t count.'”

IMG_3286Stephen Rex Brown

Ms. Chin spoke at a raucous rally at P.S. 134 on East Broadway in front of an auditorium packed with students, parents and administrators chanting and hoisting signs like “Children are our future” and “Please don’t close my after-school.” The crowd of around 500 was so big that police officers turned scores away at the door because the building was at capacity.

The cuts “would have a particularly devastating impact on my Lower East Side and Chinatown communities,” State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said. “More than 2,000 children in Lower Manhattan would be left without after-school programs.”

IMG_3280Stephen Rex Brown Protestors at the rally were turned away at the entrance to P.S. 134, which was at a capacity.

As Schoolbook reported, both Mr. Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn have signaled that much negotiating is on the horizon regarding the cuts, which could affect 47,000 children citywide. The final budget must be in place before the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

The budget proposal and the subsequent outrage has become a yearly tradition. Last year, there was a similar battle over proposed teacher layoffs, which ended in a deal with unions. The initial budget proposal for 2010 was perhaps even more grim.