New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York Daily News NYC Council to hold hearing on universal after-school by Michael Elsen-Rooney

NYC Council to hold hearing on universal after-school

New York City lawmakers are pushing to make after-school as standard as the rest of the school day.

In a hearing Tuesday at the City Council’s Youth Services Committee, elected officials and advocates will urge Mayor de Blasio’s administration to continue its expansion of out-of-school programs – until every kid has a slot.

“I want to wake up in a city where all public students have universal after-school,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos (D–Manhattan), the sponsor of a 2018 bill that would require the city to offer free after-school to any public school student ages 3-21 who requests it.

“Universal access to after-school will increase and equalize educational opportunities, keep kids out of the criminal justice system, and make life easier for parents whose jobs keep them at work until at least 5 p.m., if not longer,” Kallos said.

De Blasio has overseen a major expansion of the city’s after-school programs. Since 2014, the number of funded seats in school year and summer programs through the city Youth and Community Development Department has surged from 123,000 to close to 200,000, according to the Independent Budget Office.

But that’s still far short of reaching every student. The city offers 47,000 elementary after-school seats, for example – covering just 9% of the city’s approximately 500,000 kindergarten through fifth grade public school students.

The move would come with a hefty price tag. In testimony to the City Council in March, Youth and Community Development Department officials estimated the cost of bringing at least one program to each elementary school at around $250 million, and reaching every student “much, much higher.”

A related idea gained national attention last year when former Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris proposed extending school hours to more closely match the workday.

Two bills sponsored by Kallos and Council members Deborah Rose (D-S.I.) and Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn) would commission a study to estimate the cost of expansion and require the city to phase in programs for any student who requests a seat.

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