You are reading

Sunnyside/Woodside Parents Protest Potential Cuts to After-School Programs

Photo: QueensPost

May 23, 2013 By Bill Parry

Sunnyside, Queens: Hundreds of enthusiastic children, accompanied by their parents, packed the main room at the Sunnyside Community Services Center on Tuesday to make it clear that they are opposed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed cuts to after-school programs.

The cuts would eliminate the free after-school program at PS 150 and would lead to the program at PS 199 being slashed by 20%. The cuts would affect about 800 Sunnyside and Woodside families.

Across the city, 37,000 after-school seats are on the chopping block—following the Mayor’s budget that seeks to cut the program’s funding by $66 million.

In this neighborhood, Sunnyside Community Services, a community based non-profit organization, administers the after-school programs. It receives funding from the city to pay for full-time staffers and to cover overhead costs.

The programs provide elementary students at PS 150 and PS 199 with homework help and a range of activities between 3 pm and 6pm, Monday through Friday.

The attendees on Tuesday were urged to send a protest letter to the Mayor or voice their outrage through social media campaigns. Many were told to work the phones in an effort to save the programs.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer fired up the crowd.

“We should be having a rally to expand these programs, not to save them,” Van Bramer said, adding that it’s the fourth year in a row that the Mayor’s budget has called for the elimination of these programs.

Van Bramer declared the programs as essential, arguing that they help children with their studies and keep them safe after school. “I hope to anger and motivate people that these programs should never be pawns in a budget negotiation,” he said.

Several local parents testified as to the importance of the programs.

Deborah Gody, a single mother of four, said, “These after school programs mean everything to me; if they were eliminated I’d have to quit my job and go on welfare.”

Sandra Fenton-Boyle, a married mother of three, pointed out that after-school programs should never be confused with babysitting. “It allows my husband Ed and I to work and build a better future for our family.”

Fenton-Boyle drew some of the loudest cheers of the event when she closed her speech saying, “When I win the lotto, the first check I write will be to Sunnyside Community Center!”

Judy Zangwill Executive Director Sunnyside Community Services Sunnyside

email the author: [email protected]

27 Comments

Click for Comments 
123sunny

The SCS youth program – in full – is 1.8 million in annual costs (employee and benefits, transportation, building lease, electricity, snacks, etc.) It includes other programs such as the teen SAT prep classes, young adult job training, and summer camps, etc. as part of those youth costs. Assuming all those programs collectively are 800K (conservative assumption) and subtracting that figure, that means the youth after school program is one million a year (a high assumption).

If it is funded from the state, presumably the state is getting its money from taxes and over the course of 5 years, 5 million would be saved (or reallocated) from taxpayers.

Each month that is about $115,000 operating costs and with the 800 affected families means a $140 monthly tuition, or $35 a week. Its a 15-a-week hour program, so basically comes to $2.50 an hour for childcare per affected family.

Admittedly, contributing $35 a week, or $2.50 an hour, seems a fair responsibility to place on parents.

We as a society vote for our politicians and they in turn allocate or reallocate money based on certain platforms and ideologies. Here, the government has decided to save (or reallocate-maybe to police given the recent trend of crazy crimes in our neighborhood) money by reducing its contributions to these programs.

It does not mean these programs have to close their doors. If society – the same people that vote – want these programs in their own communities, they can contribute to the organizations running them.

SCS does take tax deductible donations. What amount are those in support of the program going to donate to SCS?

Again, if people (who support the program) are so adamant about it – it makes no sense why an influx of contributions aren’t being made with a follow-up story in the Sunnyside Post that the program will run based on community donations. . . .

http://www.scsny.org/donate/index.html

Reply
SuperWittySmitty

I think a BIG problem for working parents is that schools let students out at 3; it’s very difficult for a parent to be employed and still be home at that time, and many parents need to work in order to pay for the upbringing of their kids. After-school programs are needed to fill this gap; gone are the days where Mom would be home in the afternoon the kitchen, preparing snacks. I would think hiring babysitters or paying for private day care for 3 hours a day is a much greater burden on society than setting up some sort of after-school program that can be tailored to be both legitimately beneficial and educational to students, to parents, and the the neighborhood. My Mom worked and didn’t get home until 6. It was during those hours that I got into the most trouble, and this was in the 70s when I was growing up in the suburbs! It’s much worse today for kids; ask anyone involved in the education system what students do when they leave school at 3 PM.

Reply
Sunnyside Native

Oppressed Masses – for the money that my extended family spends to live here in Sunnyside where we grew up, which collectively is two houses, 1 condo, 1 co-op and 1 rental, each family member owns a dog and all wanted a dog run. That is part of our rights and benefits as tax paying citizens, just like after school programs for neighborhood kids are benefits to those tax paying citizens. No one group should reap all the privileges and benefits. These properties are our investment and we wanted to see the ROI in the form of a dog run. Get with the tax paying program!

Why don’t you be a real hero to some of the under-privileged children (that you claim to help) of Sunnyside, and offer some baby sitting hours by you and the ‘lady of your dreams’, while some of these parents are at work. Surely you could commit to 3-6 hours per week. The kids would get quite a kick out of your pet pigeon, Polly.

Reply
Oppressed Masses

Right on Native, you tell ’em! Just like spending $1.4 million in taxpayer money on a dog poo pit for the pets of people who are members of Sunnyside Gardens Park where dogs are barred, the same folks who also spend their afternoons taking up space on public sidewalks drinking wine with their dogs at Claret! What’s the world come to!?

Reply
O'shea

@am
your math and thinking is flawed. This country, state,and county is awash with misallocated cash and pork projects. You have two kids, single, pay more in taxes. So what? I do too.
This is a direct result of your education and personal responsibility. Not everyone has that opportunity. Saying that cutting programs like these saves millions in taxpayer dollars is an affirmation of your ignorance. You sound like a judgmental social worker.

This state spends $billions to incarcerate people for lesser crimes. Why are you not complaining about that? When last did you look at the ny state budget? Why is the citizenry not storming the state house?
We are complaining about kids being babysat. Really? Really?

Reply
Sunnyside Native

Could not agree more with sm and truth seeker! You can’t send your kid to school wearing clothes from bebe & an iPhone in hand, while crying poverty about having cutbacks in certain areas of government! People should only have a number of children based on what they can afford. Don’t have four, when you can only afford two. It’s simple math.

Reply
123sunny

I looked at their website and their audited fiscal statement for each of 2010 and 2011. In Schedule 1 (last two pages in the link), it shows personnel and related costs broken out for the youth program for each of those years.

Personnel and related costs for the youth program:

$1,500,000

Assume there are 30 employees (a ratio of 1 worker per 26 families, so one worker per 35 kids, a fair approximation), that means each earns $50,000 a year for working “full-time” though the program is only run three hours a day — 3-6 (or 2:30-5:30) — and only for 9 months at that.

Additionally, these workers are not teachers, they are earning that much for essentially babysitting.

http://www.scsny.org/aboutus/report/Financials_SCS_FY_2011.pdf

The cost saving here would be reducing employees to part-time workers and lowering salaries accordingly. Or keep 5 as full-time and the remainder as part-time, namely the 3-6 afterschool program. Hire part-time paid by the hour workers for that segment of the services.

SCS would save a lot of money that way. . . .

In addition to employees, one year they paid $70,000 to consultants. Really?? Don’t do that.

Also, postage and shipping accounted for $30,000 of yearly expense? That seems excessive.

This does include GED and college preparedness programs in the total, but even so. . . . those are separate programs and could have their own minimal fee set.

Personnel costs could be cut and families could pay $75-100 a month
to SCS for aftercare (and $25 per GED or SAT training session).

Reply
allow me to retort

Perhaps politicians like JVB and their staff should volunteer to take a pay/benefits/pension cut and put it towards programs such as these.

Reply
sm

Exactly truth speaker – exactly!

In one post I discussed fiscal responsibility with parenting – I AM a single mom of two, so I get it, and its hard – but don’t have what you cannot afford. A single mom of four complaining that not having this program will drive her to welfare makes my blood boil.

In another, I said, have fundraising – get the parents involved and raise money. If it is important to the parents and the community, then get out there and show it versus just writing letters and yelling in a room.

In another, I calculated cost of attendance based on the 800 Sunnyside families affected and an assumed $75 monthly tuition. SCS would have 60 THOUSAND dollars A MONTH to run this program for THREE hours a day program!!!

Tell me Ms. Zangwell why that can’t be done. You could hire 20 people for 4 hours a day at $20 an hour. That comes to approximately $48,000 a month in salaries. That still leaves $12,000 a month to cover electricity, crayons, insurance, hire more people, ect.

And imagine if you charged that deminimis tuition AND did fundraising . . .

You do not need my tax dollars for this. Unbelievable that you should even ask.

Oh, and yes, when I go to the local playgrounds – EVERYONE has the latest gidgets and gadget Iphones. . . .

Reply
TRUTH SPEAKER

Why do they never mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars Zangwill and the higher up employees at SCS make. Not to mention the other free benefits of working there (food, trips, big raises, etc). The after school people get paid very well for what they do. Most of the ones hired are only hired because they know people there or are related. I dont think people would be too happy to know about the money going towards parties and unnecessary things at the after schools. Thousands are spend on things that are not needed. The after schools directors have no idea how to budget. There could be way more fundraising going on.

What pisses me off is that you got parents that can afford paying for programs and they just take advantage of the free things. I mean you can send your kids to school in nothing but name brands, new clothes all the time, have nice things yourself, but can’t afford to pay for afterschool or a sitter. And no offense but before anyone has a child they should really think about how much money it costs to raise one. If you can’t afford it dont go and have 3-5 kids.

Reply
sm

Taking 123sunny’s point a little further —

The article states 800 families would be affected — 800 families. Let’s assume the article is correct.

If the SCS charged $50 a month per family (regardless of the number of kids they have), that would generate $40,000 each month.

If they charged $75 a month per family (regardless of the number of kids they have), it would generate $60,000 a month.

I absolutely cannot believe that the SCS could not operate this program at $60,000 dollars PER MONTH (for a total of $540,000 over 9 months).

I also cannot believe that a family couldn’t pay at least $75 a month for after-school care for all of their kids (for a total of about $700 for the entire school year).

If the SCS’s operating costs are truly more the 60K a month, then they could raise the cost to $100 a month per family (generating 80K a month). If it costs more than 80K a month to operate this program, I think how it operates should be carefully scrutinized.

Cutting these programs save taxpayers millions. For us in the middle class already supporting our own families and being squeezed by federal, state, and local taxes – this program still has viability at a MORE than reasonable cost for those it serves.

Reply
is this sunnymoms?

Just kidding! But it’s interesting to read the various views regarding parenting, responsibility of government to children, etc.

The Mayor does this each year with numerous social service programs, not just those affecting children. He seems to love making these non-profits beg for money.

I have no answers but commend the civil discourse.

Reply
123sunny

A babysitter costs about $20 an hour. From 3-6 five days a week is $180. That times four weeks is $720. That times 9 months in a school year is $6,500. Yes, if going a private route – that adds up BIG time.

But these programs are routinely offered at private schools at a fraction of that cost. That tuition is approximately $2,000 total for the 9 months (averaging $250 a month with prorating for additional kids, e.g. 2 kids being $300 a month, etc.). That would be a closer approximation to the SCC services.

Surely, parents who can afford 3 and 4 kids can afford paying the SCC $250 a month without resorting to welfare or disrupting their ability to provide a “better future” by that difference — as implied by some moms in this post. If not, then those kids have a lot more hardships and worries confronting them. . .

Reply
SunnysidePostHatesMe14

Sunnyside doesn’t do anything for kids, as much as they want to claim this is a great place to live, where are the day cares (that aren’t Korean or ran by bible thumpers) where’s all the weekend community driven activities? where’s the fairs?

The best thing done for kids is what ps 150 has done with these after school programs AND their yearly fair which I must say this year was awesome unlike the cash grab that was last years debacle.

Parents NEED these afterschool programs.

Reply
QueenBee

More money should be provided to school programs, not cut! If after school programs were standardized and supported there would be less drug use and violence in future generations.

Reply
sm

@LG – Kids are expensive, especially in NYC. And with having a family comes a personal responsibility to assume you will need to care for them. That care includes costs. Those costs include after-school care.

I would love to be a mom of 4 kids like Deborah Gody in the sense of having a large family, but that would be irresponsible to the 2 that I have, myself, and society at large. Ultimately, responsible kids stem from responsible parents.

I pay a lot in taxes and while I am fine with supporting public schools, the government needs to reign in spending, that means some programs have to get cut. There absolutely has to be a balance between social and personal/parental responsibilities.

If you feel strongly about continuing this program so that you will be cared for when you age, then start a fundraiser for donations from the community to continue SCC’s afterschool activites. Though, I also suggest a 401K, IRA, or other such plan . . .

Ask SCC how much $$ it needs to operate and set a goal of that.

Sunnyside often has various charitable events and such and raises tens of thousands of dollars. Have the interested parents have bake-sales, older kids could perform car washes for $10, etc. Whatever, you decide.

If the community at large feels as strongly as you do (and it likely does) and the parents at the meeting, this should not be hard to accomplish and then this wouldn’t even be an issue.

I would happily buy baked goods, etc. becuase it shows that my money towards the cause means something to the parents, and that the parents are willing to step up for thier kids, beyond showing up at a community meeting and voicing anger — anyone can do that.

Reply
S. Boyle

Very surprised at the negative comments, unfortunate circumstances happen to folk all the time. I as a tax payer am very happy to contribute towards these programs in the community i live in and will be long after my kids no longer need them. These programs help shape the wonderful minds of our next generation, The self esteem and self confidence these kids gain from these programs can’t be bought.
While also allowing parents to work on a better future for all.

Reply
LG

@SM – I consider my taxes going towards programs like this for the community’s children to be an investment in the future. Some day these children might care for us as we age; I’m happy to contribute as a taxpayer towards their development now, to assist their parents in working and providing a stable homelife, and to ensure that these kids grow up into responsible adults.

Reply
Woodside Mom

The number of afterschool slots at PS 229 (Woodside) was cut last Fall, so these cuts in Sunnyside are in addition to previous cuts. Hoping that ALL afterschool slots can be restored…

Reply
Native NYer

For the past 3 years it has been the same song and dance. The mayor threatens to cut and JVB rides to the rescue. Honestly, a more long term approach to making these programs viable should be discussed.

It’s important to note that FREE after school is fairly rare and many school in NYC do not have them.

Many schools have introduced sliding scale programs where the parents pay according to their ability. The key is to make the program and class choices good enough so that parents who can pay the full cost are attracted to them. It works in many, many other schools.

Reply
sm

I don’t know where I stand on this as a single mom.

I get offended when other single moms (e.g. Deb M.) tie parenting responsibilities (fiscal ones) into government programs that I’m paying for through taxes on top of taking care of my own family. . . I know that I cannot afford 4 kids on my own, but that I can afford 2 (with a sitter to assist weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. while I work).

There is an element of social responsibility, but there is also an element of personal responsibility. Public schools from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. provide a social responsibility, the aftercare is my parental personal responsibility.

Why is it a bad thing to expect parents to factor in taking care of their own kids when having them?

There are people that have no kids and yet still contribute taxes for the social responsibility element of schooling. I don’t expect them to continue to contribute to my kids’ afterschool care. That is part and parcel of my job as a parent.

Reply
REALLY??

I find it funny that Bloomberg always goes after the ones that need these services the most. He can find the money to build a brand new school, but yet can’t find money to run it or the programs that it needs to help our community!!!

Reply
45th and Skillman

I’ve had a kid in that after school program, and it’s very nice. Very well run, safe, clean. It’s a great resource. I’m for it. I hope JVB wrangles the funds back, as he has in past years.

But let’s not kid ourselves, Sandra Fenton-Boyle. It’s subsidized daycare.

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News