Marble Hill clung onto its after-school program and gained an additional city-sponsored youth program at Multiple Intelligence School, PS/MS 37 in a budget deal hammered out last week.
The Riverdale Press previously reported that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed $19.5 million cut to the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Out-of-School Time programs threatened to shutter the free after-school and summer camp programs in the Marble Hill Community Center, located in the Marble Hill Houses. But budget negotiations injected an additional $50 million into OST funding, which finances programs that provide free academic and recreational activities to students after school, during holidays and over the summer. The money saved the Marble Hill’s existing program and will allow it to soon offer local families a second free site.
Geronimo Ruiz, the program director at Marble Hill Community Center, said many parents would welcome the news. He said he’s been receiving an average of 10 phone calls a day from parents concerned about the fate of the program, some of whom couldn’t afford the market rate of child care and would have to quit their jobs to watch the children.
“A lot of families were upset because they wouldn’t have anybody to watch their kids and some families would have a hard time helping their kids with homework because of the language barriers,” Mr. Ruiz said.
Children’s Arts and Science Workshops, which runs the 120-seat after-school program at the Marble Hill Community Center, was allotted $657,500 from the city for its local programs. Come fall, Mr. Ruiz said a PS/MS 37 after-school program for struggling students will be offered alongside a free OST program for approximately 150 elementary school students and 50 middle schoolers.
“We always have a waiting list that usually has 100 names on it so this will help alleviate that,” Mr. Geronimo said.
Ryheen and Eva Gagaines, of Marble Hill, said they were relieved to hear their second-grader Jasmin could continue using the community center next fall.
“She wouldn’t have been doing much. But there they help her with homework and have activities and they keep her busy and focused and on track,” Mr. Gagaines said.
The program, which runs from 3 to 5 p.m., includes homework help, literacy training, Lego robotics, dance, art and a snack time.
“We have busy lives so if she has after-school stuff, it really takes a burden off us as far as getting things done,” Mr. Gagaines said.