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Advocates gear up for annual after-school budget cuts battle

If Mayor Bloomberg’s budget proposal goes through, the city would offer only 35 percent as many after school spots next year as it did in 2008.

That scenario is relatively unlikely, given the City Council’s history of finding funds to fill the city’s after-school budget gaps. But the proposal still illustrates the Bloomberg administration’s lack of commitment to after-school and child care, according to the Campaign for Children, a coalition of 150 nonprofit and community groups formed last year to oppose the cuts that Bloomberg planned.

The campaign held a rally outside City Hall to oppose this city’s plans to cut tens of thousands of after-school and child care seats.

The City Council averted last year’s proposed cuts — 30,000 after-school slots and 6,500 early childhood slots — with a last-minute funding restoration in what has become an annual ritual.

But the funding was only for one year, and now, Bloomberg has proposed cutting even more slots: 37,000 across the city’s three after-school programs and 10,000 in child care programs.

Exhibit A at the Campaign for Children’s rally was a graph that charts the toll through this year on one kind of after-school seat: those offered by the city’s Out-of-School Time program, which Bloomberg created early in his tenure.

Emma Woods, a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Children, said the graph highlighted the fact that even after the City Council steps in, some seats do disappear, meaning that fewer children can be accommodated in city programs.

“It’s not just restored fully every year,” she said. “We are really losing services — and they’re important.”

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