Parents and student who rely on M.S. 158 Beacon School camp and programming may be out of luck come July.
In order to close a $2.1 million budget gap, the Dept. of Youth and Community Development is closing seven Beacon sites across the city.
The after-school enrichment and camp programs, which range from music education, to homework help, to Lego club and tennis camp, are all set to end at the on July 1.
An email was sent to District 26 officials last week that said M.S. 158 and the other six sites were selected for termination because they were in communities with the “lowest need.”
A spokesman for the DYCD said they determined which communities had the low need by analyzing population and poverty figures from the U.S. Census.
“City Hall bureaucrats must think we’re here in Bayside,” said Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Whitestone. “Instead of closing programs and hitting specific neighborhoods it deems privileged, the City should trim costs from each Beacon program to make them more efficient,” he added.
Each site costs approximately $334,000 to annually to operate.
In a statement issued by the DYCD, the agency said, “This difficult decision followed 12 rounds of gap-closing actions and a significant loss of federal and state funding incurred during the past several years,” said the agency in a statement. “As we heard from advocates and providers, any further cuts to individual programs would make it challenging to continue to provide quality, comprehensive services and carry out their mission.”
“If this program is discontinued there are going to be a lot of sad kids home alone after school (at best) or wandering the streets looking for trouble (at worst),” said Kim D’Angelo, who chairs the District 26 Presidents Council.
“Typically, the kids in this program are from families with working parents (many with two or more jobs) who cannot afford alternate childcare,” D’Angelo said, adding, “Just because there are a lot of affluent families in District 26 does not mean our kids don't need and deserve this program!”
The parent of one 7th grader who asked only to be identified as “Maria,” says she and her spouse both work full time, and have no alternative to the Beacon School for her son.
“I can’t afford to send him to a [private] summer camp…my parents moved to Florida, they can’t stay with him,” Maria said, adding, “With the Beacon program, I know where he is, what he’s doing, who he’s with. Do they want them roaming the streets?”
Maria said all the parents she’s familiar with who use the program come from two-earner, or single parent households.
“We’re all struggling people, trying to keep, our homes, make our mortgages, it’s unfair,” she added.
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