One of the two classrooms Manhattan Youth has been leasing to P.S. 234. The youth group is asking for about $300,000 a year and the city is offering $100,000.
Principal, parents blast I.S. 89 after-school cut
Staff and parents at I.S. 89 slammed the city’s plan to discontinue the school’s popular after-school program because of budget cuts.
“This is so short-sighted,” said Ellen Foote, principal of I.S. 89. “We’re going to lose a lot and we’re not going to be able to rebuild [for] years.”
The city Dept. of Youth and Community Development recently axed the $120,000 I.S. 89 program, run by Manhattan Youth, along with 32 other in the city, to save money. Rather than spreading the cuts evenly around the city’s 510 after-school programs, the city targeted the ones in the wealthiest zip codes.
Bob Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth, said the city’s method was unfair because I.S. 89 students come not just from Battery Park City, where the middle school is located, but also from poorer neighborhoods like Chinatown and the Lower East Side. I.S. 89 is a Title I school, meaning at least 40 percent of the students receive a free lunch, Townley said. Many of the students from low-income families currently participate in the free after-school program, he said.
The five-day-a-week I.S. 89 program — which includes all of the school’s sports leagues, the theater program, the robotics team and homework help — costs $195,000 a year to run. Without the city’s aid, Townley said it would be hard for Manhattan Youth to raise enough money to continue the program.
Bonnie Abrams, a B.P.C. resident with a daughter in sixth grade at I.S. 89, said all local residents should be concerned about the cut.
“I would appeal to our neighbors’ sense of quiet and peace,” Abrams said at a P.T.A. meeting last Thursday night. “If you have a bunch of sixth, seventh and eighth graders who have nowhere to go after school, they’re going to be all over Battery Park, driving every store owner, and every person who’s trying to have a nice stroll through the park, crazy.”
The P.T.A. is planning a letter-writing campaign and possibly a rally. On Tuesday, Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee passed a resolution calling for the city to restore the program. Townley, a member of the committee, recused himself from the vote.
— Julie Shapiro