As of now, the Out of School Time program reaches 154 schools in Brooklyn. According to its website, it offers “a mix of academic, recreational and cultural activities for young people (grades K-12) after school” and is free of charge. It’s also a relief to parents who work longer hours and rely on the program to watch over their children into the evening.
But, according to a new report out by The Daily News, it looks like almost 10,000 kids in Brooklyn who participate in the program are out of luck this fall.
The OST program houses 52,567 students every weekday city-wide. This number will be halved once the budget cuts from Bloomberg’s administration are installed. Here’s the data: this year, the budget was $91.5 million; next time school is in session, the funds will have dropped to $73.3 million. Instead of 154 programs, Brooklyn will be left with 77 overloaded OST’s, pushing 10,000 kids out of the program. And none of the parents involved are too happy about it.
Before the financial crisis in 2008 and the onslaught of recession austerity in municipalities, the OST program was riding high with 90,000 kids in its ranks. Consistently each year, its funds and size are being trimmed in the wake of budget shortfalls.
Except this academic shortfall leads to another shortfall: once after-school evaporates into thin air, the employment livelihoods of the students’ parents are put into play as well. As mentioned before, the two run parallel to each other; hence why parents were out in protest of the cut just a few weeks ago.
The News report references a poll conducted by the NYC Campaign for Children with Brooklyn parents. The results do not look good: 32% of them will now have to leave a job or educational opportunity because of Bloomberg’s new budget while 28% said they would simply leave the kids alone once school gets out.
The City Council has the ability to re-instate the funds but, with the unfortunate trend of downward decline in the education sector, it doesn’t look like it’ll happen. And that is a damn shame.