Tag Archives: cuts

St. Mary’s program that serves thousands of special needs children to end


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A valuable program will come to an end this year for nearly 3,000 children at St. Mary’s Healthcare System, officials announced this week.

The Bayside-based facility that serves children with special needs and complex medical conditions will close its Early Intervention (EI) program May 5 due to state Department of Health cuts to reimbursement rates, St. Mary Interim President and CEO Edwin Simpser said.

More than 750 children, who currently use the program, will need to be transitioned into other agencies, he said.

“We know that these are challenging times for other EI providers, who are experiencing similar struggles,” Simpser said, “and we will continue to advocate for more appropriate reimbursement rates for vital childhood programs, including EI, that are so essential to the success and future of our children.”

The cuts have made it difficult for the program to survive, St. Mary’s administration and other nonprofits said.

“Despite the growing need for service, EI rates have not increased in 12 years, making it almost impossible for not-for-profit providers, with hospital-based providers in particular, to operate,” said Christopher Treiber, associate executive director for Children’s Services at the InterAgency Council.

Each year, the state-funded EI program at St. Mary’s serves nearly 3,000 children, who are or might be at risk for developmental delays or disabilities.

For more than 20 years, it has provided free evaluations, special education and therapeutic, support services for children under three years old.

“Our main priority at this time is to ensure a smooth transition for the children,” Simpser said.

 

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Balanced budget means cuts to FDNY, after school


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Children’s classrooms will remain unaffected in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 11th executive budget — but kids may have nowhere to go after the final bell rings.

The $68.7 million balanced budget includes no tax increases, but presents deep cuts to after-school programs, day care and fire companies while retaining more than 2,500 teacher positions the mayor proposed eliminating in his preliminary plan.

“Our budget won’t impose any new taxes on New Yorkers, maintains the strength of the NYPD and continues our strong support for public schools,” said Bloomberg on Thursday, May 3.

In Bloomberg’s first fiscal presentation in February, more than 2,500 teacher jobs were to be eliminated through attrition.
“We saved nearly 2,600 classroom teachers, and I am thrilled that the Department of Education has been funded at a level that avoids any further reduction in teachers,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

While teachers were saved, child care and fire companies face the ax.

United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) called Bloomberg’s “lack of commitment” to children “nothing short of disgraceful.”

More than 40,000 children will be without day care and after-school programs if the budget cuts are not restored, UNH said.

Children’s Services budget was cut by $66 million.

Twenty fire companies will also close under Bloomberg’s plan.

The budget will be reviewed during the City Council’s hearings.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the City Council to negotiate a budget that will not undermine our children, families and seniors,” Koslowitz said. The new fiscal year begins on July 1.

J.H.S. 194 parents, pols protest elimination of school buses


| tcimino@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Bob Doda. The Department of Education said 7th and 8th grade students must wait at an MTA bus stop down the block for the two-bus, 90-minute trip to school.

As the school bus pulled away, virtually empty, not only were parents angry, they were protesting.

City Councilmember Dan Halloran and several elected leaders from northeast Queens joined parents from J.H.S. 194 in College Point on Friday, November 4 at a rally protesting the elimination of the school’s buses.

“The Department of Education [DOE] must provide transportation to ensure that students travel safely to and from school,” said Councilmember Peter Koo. “It is unacceptable for the DOE to make budget cuts or reductions to services that adversely impact the well-being of tomorrow’s leaders. The safe transport of students is the responsibility of the DOE and they should immediately resume yellow bus service. During these difficult and challenging times, parents have enough to worry about and we should not further burden them with the concern for their children’s safety when traveling to and from school.”

Organized by J.H.S. 194 parents, the rally was held at the school bus stop for 6th grade students at the intersection of 6th Avenue and College Point Boulevard.

But rather than permit 7th and 8th grade students to ride the desolate bus, the DOE has said they must wait at an MTA bus stop down the block for the two-bus, 90-minute trip to school.

Parents at 194 were informed one day before school started in September that 7th and 8th grade students would not be eligible for school bus service this year as they had been in the past, as a cost-cutting measure by the mayor.

“College Point is one of the most underserved communities in New York City,” said Halloran. “It is shameful that 11-year-old children from this community have to take a dangerous, complicated two-hour commute twice a day just to get to school and back. It’s unsafe and unreasonable, and they deserve better. Every time an empty school bus drives by this bus stop, it represents a waste of the taxpayers’ money and a slap in the face of College Point.”

DOE cuts leave their mark


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

For Gary Haberski, reporting for his six-hour shift each weekday at Bayside High School was not only a delight, but his daily workout.

“I used to walk to school every day since I only live two miles away,” said Haberski, 62, of Whitestone, one of 700 Department of Education (DOE) employees let go recently. “I would go back tomorrow if I could.”

With the largest number of layoffs at one time in the city during the Bloomberg Administration, teacher aides and support staff have officially been cut in an effort to save $35 million, according to DOE officials.

This is the second time Haberski has been laid off by the DOE, last time spending 11-months on a recall list. Although prepared with a letter explaining a possible lay-off in September, the pink slip letter that came on October 7 prompted him to call all of his elected officials in outrage.

“The first time, I was upset and depressed,” said Haberski, a lifelong Queens resident. “Now, I’m just mad.”

School aides and support staff have many roles in schools including monitoring hallways, creating a more secure environment, observing during SAT and other test taking as well as other functions. It’s those day-to-day interactions with students that he misses the most.

“You establish relationships with the kids. You see them every day and learn what they want to do with their lives. I miss all that,” said Haberski.

Since being put back on the recall list, Haberski has filed for unemployment and is currently looking into food stamps as a money-saving option. He was one of three aides to be laid-off at Bayside High School, each of them in their 60s as well.

“We are hoping they are going to call us back quicker,” said Haberski. “There are not many jobs out there to begin with, especially for a 62 year old. It’s a waiting game.”

The decision to make cuts occurred as a result of failed negotiations between DC 37, the city’s largest municipal public employee union, and the DOE. DC 37 believes the cuts will affect lower income areas the most.