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Parents Decry Cuts To Beacon After-School Programs

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Seven of the popular Beacon after-school programs may be shut down due to city budget cuts, affecting 6,000 students in all five boroughs – and parents in the affected communities are not happy.

The Beacon program provides educational and extra-curricular activities for thousands of New Yorkers.

"Some parents cannot afford babysitting and it's just very helpful," parent Lydia Mestica said Friday. "So if they do cut down the Beacon program it will be very upsetting."

"They will have no place to go after school," said Wanda Wooten of the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center of the children who would be displaced.

The proposed closure is in response to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's $2.1 million budget cuts to the Department of Youth and Community Development.

There are currently 80 Beacon programs across the city. Of the seven slated to close, there are two each in Queens and Manhattan, and one each in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.

The Beacon program was instituted in 1991, but the city has been cutting funding due to a lack of state and federal dollars.

"Our program not only serves our immediate area of Forest Hills and Rego Park, but we serve youth, families and adults throughout the borough," said Marlena Starace of Queens Community House.

The seven programs are scheduled to close on July 1. That means City Council members have until then to negotiate with the mayor in an attempt to restore the cuts and save the seven programs.

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