Today’s news:

City must keep after-school programs going

An open letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

I am writing to express concern about your plan to modify the fiscal year 2011 budget. Specifically, I am concerned the Out of School Time programming administered by the city Department of Youth and Community Development is slated for a $7.5 million reduction — over 50 percent of which is directly targeted to Queens.

I understand these proposed cuts have been made by ZIP codes. Discriminating by ZIP code is an arbitrary and capricious action and selectively separates us from the rest of the city. This cut means the Samuel Field Y will be forced to close the program at PS 115 in Floral Park, PS 169 in Bay Terrace and PS/IS 266 in Bellerose, taking this critical service away from over 400 children.

We understand tough fiscal times demand action, but such drastic cuts endanger young people. After-school programs funded through the OST keep kids safe and give them access to caring adults who help them increase school achievement and avoid self-destructive and anti-social behavior.

These cuts will also have an impact on families. Working parents depend on these programs to keep kids constructively engaged while at work. In this difficult economy, the OST programs are a life-saving service to individuals, such as myself, who must maintain employment to continue the survival and well-being of their families.

OST programs provide high-quality service to the youth in our community. As parents, we are concerned about our children’s safety and education and are worried about how we will keep our jobs without this wonderful and vital program.

Robert Kleppel

Glen Oaks

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