Residents fight library and after-school budget cuts
Hundreds of city residents descended on City Hall yesterday to protest Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget cuts that would end many after-school programs and slash library funding.
The cuts would hit many people in this section of Queens hard. Several after-school programs in Sunnyside and Woodside would close, while the hours at both the Sunnyside and Woodside branch libraries would be significantly reduced.
The Queens Library system stands to lose $26.7 million. That would lead to the closure of about one-third of the 62 branch libraries in Queens and would leave most of the others – including the Woodside and Sunnyside branches– closed four days per week.
The Sunnyside branch is currently one of 18 branch libraries in Queens that is open on Saturdays. Woodside’s Saturday service ended in 2010. All the branch libraries in the Queens Library system are currently open at least 5-days per week.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who led the protest at city hall, said that Bloomberg’s proposed cuts would lead to the loss of 1,500 library jobs across the city’s library systems–which include the Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library. The cuts would also result in 50 libraries throughout the 5 boroughs being shuttered.
The funding cuts would go into effect July 1, which is the beginning of the city’s 2013 fiscal year.
Van Bramer has described the cuts as “wrong and foolish and bad for neighborhoods”, adding that libraries and after-school programs “provide vital resources during pressing times.”
Bloomberg plans to defund 233 after-school programs across the city. These funds cover the cost of after-school for parents in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. In wealthier areas, the parents cover the cost.
The after-school cuts are particularly important to many parents with school-aged children in Sunnyside and Woodside, since PS150 (40-01 43rd Ave.), PS11 (54-24 Skillman Ave) and PS152 (33-52 62nd St.) are all in jeopardy of losing their funding.
Last week, Van Bramer with Woodside on the Move, which runs the after-school programs for PS11 and PS152, organized a protest. They said that the two schools, combined, might lose about $1 million in city funding. These programs offer children help with their homework to arts & crafts.
The cuts are by no means a forgone conclusion, since the city council will try to restore the cuts and enter into discussions with the mayor. In recent years, the council has been able to restore most of the funds– although not all.