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P.S. 96 after school programs scaled back significantly

Bronx Times

As kids head back to school, some Pelham Parkway parents have plenty to worry about.

The after-school program out of P.S. 96 Richard Rodgers Elementary School has been scaled back, thanks to Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s latest budget.

Of the 300 elmentary school children allowed to take part in the Out-of-School Time (OST) program at 650 Waring Avenue, only 80 will now be able to attend.

“This is going to create a tremendous burden for every family above those 80,” said William Foster, head of the Neighborhood Initiatives Development Corporation, which sponsors the program.

The NIDC has now set up a lottery system.

If moms or dads can’t get in, they still have a chance to get into the program so long as they pay a monthly $200 fee.

“It’s really very low when you compare it to any other alternative,” said Foster, who calculated the cost to be $3.33 an hour.

For the past 25 years the program has given homework help, leadership development and even field trips to hundreds of kids.

Foster said many of those who’ve gone through the program have made something of themselves, with many eventually working for the program.

Since 2005, the NIDC has received money from the city to keep the program going.

But NIDC lost all of its funding from the Department of Youth and Community Development after it failed the Request for Proposal process, required by nonprofits.

But after some behind-the-scenes dealings between City Council members and Mayor Bloomberg, $160,000 in discretionary funds was given to restore a fraction of the spots.

The cuts were a result of the reduced budget DYCD received from the latest Fiscal 2013 Executive Budget, which received $244 million, a decrease of $78 million from last year’s budget.

Stephanie Gendell of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York called the reduction at P.S. 96 unfortunate and an example of why the Bronx needs a “plan to reach far greater numbers of children and youth.”

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or dcruz@cnglocal.com.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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