Students and parents clamoring to save the Beacon program at a Forest Hills school got a boost Tuesday from local politicians.
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), Council Member Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), and Assemblywoman Grace Meng rallied at Russell Sage Junior High School because it’s at risk of losing the popular after-school service.
The Beacon program is an after-school and evening program and serves people from ages 8 to 21. Teachers, parents and students believe the program is being targeted for closure in Forest Hills because it’s not a high-need area on the surface.
“We must stop determining service cuts based on zip codes,” said Koslowitz. “The Beacon program at JHS 190 is an asset to our community because it provides, through educational and social components, a safe place for kids to go after school.”
This school’s program is one of seven threatened in an attempt to save money.
If city officials don’t find funding for it before there’s a final budget, it will be cut.
“While we are all experiencing difficult economic times and sacrifices must be made, we cannot balance the budget on the backs of our children—enough is enough,” Koslowitz said. “I personally know the value of the Beacon program and will do everything in my power to ensure that the program at JHS 190 remains open and continues to serve the children of our community.”
The program could be gone as soon as this summer, but supporters say it’s not fair to snatch it away from kids, especially because it serves kids from across the borough, not just from Forest Hills.
“Like its lighthouse namesake, the Beacon program has been a guiding light in the community, providing school-based activities for people of all ages,” said Stavisky.
“While the economy is still in a recovery stage, and resources are scarce, it is important not to close community-based programs which provide a ‘home away from home’ for so many people. To close the program because some people in a zip code may not need it is irresponsible and insensitive to those who are in need.”