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Groups Protest Mayor's Proposal To Cut After-School Programs Out Of Budget

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The mayor's budget proposal once again takes a slice out of after school programs. It's a cut that re-emerges every year and one the City Council always fights to restore. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Once again, after-school programs are on the chopping block, and groups are protesting outside of City Hall.

"This program cares about each child's growth, and cutting after-school programs will deny me and other participants of an opportunity to grow and learn in a positive environment," said one high school student.

When school lets out, the City Council said kids normally involved in after-school programs will be sent out into the street instead.

"Youth on youth violence is an issue when there is no after-school program," said Bronx Councilman Andy King.

Officials said the cuts could lead to other crime.

"Kids will do things like graffiti. The kids will steal from the local bodega. [They] will do those kinds of things," said Jeanne Mullgrav, commissioner of youth and community development.

Some 37,000 kids could lose their after school program in next year's budget, a cut worth more than $60 million.

"Every kid that we can have in those programs is a kid that's better off," Mullgrav said. "We have 1.1 million kids in our public school system, so scale is always going to be the challenge for us."

This conversation is one that's been heard before. Year after year, groups take to the steps of City Hall to blast the Bloomberg administration for cuts to youth programs, and year after year, the City Council restores the money. So what makes this year any different? And is it all just for show?

"What's different about this year is that this is the mayor's last year in office, and this is his last budget, and this is his last opportunity to show that the children of this city matter," said Katherine Eckstein of the Children's Aid Society.

The Council said once again that restoring the cuts is one of its top priorities.

"This is a gut check moment for New York City," said Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin. "It's a gut check moment, and we have to take a deep look in the mirror and really come to terms with who we are and who we want to be as a city and the legacy that the Bloomberg administration wants to leave."

It's something they hope the next mayor will keep in mind as well.

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