“This is wack, bring the Beacon back.”
That is what students of the Phipps Beacon Program at the Piagentini and Jones Campus, located inside I.S. 192, are saying about the closure of the program, slated for June 30, 2012.
Slated to close as one of seven due to New York City budget cuts, the program currently serves three middle schools, and about 950 Throggs Neck community members throughout the fiscal year, according to program director Monique De La Oz.
The threatened Beacons were selected on the basis of their location in areas that have been determined to be of the lowest need among existing sites.
“We really should continue to have free programs in the Bronx for teens as well as children,” De La Oz said. “This is the only Beacon program slated for closure in the Bronx. I really want to express the importance of having an after school community for these kids.”
According to De La Oz, come September, 47,000 students in New York City will not have access to childcare and after school programs.
“More working families who have children will have to figure out what to do with them after school if this program is closed,” she said. “In Throggs Neck, we have mostly working families and in order for us to support parents we need to make sure they maintain their jobs. With this closure, they will be forced to find other types of arrangements for their kids, maybe they won’t be fun and engaging, maybe they won’t even be in a school type of environment, which is what we are trying to prevent from happening.”
De la Oz said that the after school program provides students with an opportunity to explore some of their passions, such as theater, art, and music.
In order to fight the closure of the Beacon, De La Oz along with members of the community have put together various activities to get the community involved to secure the funds for the program reinstated.
“We have had town hall meetings with parents, we are working with campaign for children, we even have parents posting various items and ways to help on Face Book,” De La Oz said. “Students have been putting together petitions, writing letters and doing whatever they can to educate the community on how important this program is to them.”
According to the program director, the program is in the process of building a council composed of the three middle school principals to advocate for the group.
On Monday, April 16, 5:30 p.m. the Beacon program will hold a borough wide event at P & J campus, 650 Hollywood Avenue, to highlight the impact of the impending cuts.
The group will also hold another rally with parents and children at City Hall on Tuesday, April 17, at 3:30 p.m.
“I would hate to see this program go and see children out on the street,” De La Oz said. “This can’t continue and we need to get reinstate funding. We want to keep the beacon alive.”