A beacon of light for McKinley

June 26, 2013 Editorial Staff
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There was good news for students at McKinley Junior High School, on Monday, June 24 who were able to rejoice after receiving word that their Beacon program would be saved.

Just a few months ago, the city proposed axing the program at McKinley, 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway, and other Beacon programs around the New York City area, due to budget constraints.

But, members of the City Council rallied around the city’s critically important after-school programs, restoring a whopping $143.6 million for Early Childhood Education and After-School Programs citywide that had been axed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his Fiscal Year 2014 budget plan.

The restoration of funding follows a strong push by students and their families, who made the case for keeping the Beacon program open during a May rally outside the school that was attended by local elected officials.

For students, the program was a fun place to learn and relax after the school day had ended; for parents, it provided a safe haven for their offspring during the latter part of the work day, something that they couldn’t necessarily afford to pay for, themselves.

“This is another major victory for the hardworking families I serve in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst,” Gentile said. “Once again, my colleagues and I fought hard to make sure the city didn’t balance its budget on the backs of our children.”

The Beacon programs provide free after-school programs for students across the city, offering a wide range of services from help with homework and tutoring to sports, arts and crafts, and drama.

Expanding the benefit to the students who participate, the programs operate six days a week, in the afternoons, and evenings, as well as on weekends, during school holidays and during the summer.

This particular Beacon program at McKinley Junior High School is operated by HeartShare Human Services of New York and is administered by the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development.

Bill Guarinello, president and CEO of HeartShare Human Services said he was “very pleased” with the Department of Youth and Community Services’ decision to save the program. He expressed his gratitude to Gentile and the other councilmembers for keeping the children in mind, stressing that they will benefit from this program as it continues to stay alive.

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