Today’s news:

PS 2 extracurricular program avoids shutdown

An after-school program at Astoria’s PS 2 that provides activities for an estimated 175 students has been saved from the chopping block following the community’s fight to keep the program intact, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said.

The program at PS 2, which is at 75-10 21st Ave. near the border of Astoria and East Elmhurst, is currently used by 175 elementary school students and has a waiting list of 150 students, said George Stellakis, director of youth services for the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee.

“This is a great example of community involvement — our students, parents and teachers worked hard to make sure this important program was saved,” Vallone said.

The after-school program, which began in 2005, runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and includes a variety of activities, such as homework help, tutoring, arts and crafts, acting classes and sports as well as recreational and cultural events. It accommodates students from kindergarten through fifth-grade.

If the program had been cut as was originally proposed, PS 2 students would have been forced to travel a minimum of 20 minutes to a paid after-school program on 34th Avenue and 82nd Street in Jackson Heights. It had been scheduled to close at the end of the school year, along with 32 other after-school programs throughout the city.

But the program was restored by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Council.

“A community of hardworking parents can continue to work and support their families in this very difficult economy, knowing that their children are in a safe, nurturing environment,” said John Kaiteris, executive director of the HANAC.

Parents of PS 2 students stood with signs, protesting the cuts in April near the school. Vallone helped organize a meeting between the parents and the city Department of Youth and Community Development.

HANAC is a Manhattan-based social services nonprofit with an office in Astoria.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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