Lancman urging mayor to fully fund middle school summer programs

By Madina Toure

City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) is asking for funding for middle-school summer programs to be fully restored.

Speaking to more than 50 students, parents and community organizations at Parsons Community School in Flushing last week, Lancman said Mayor Bill de Blasio’s preliminary budget eliminated funding for 31,000 slots citywide, including spots in Lancman’s district. He is asking the mayor to put back the funding in the executive budget, which comes out in May.

Lancman’s district includes Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates and Briarwood.

In his district alone, eight different community organizations are facing cuts of between 60 and 100 students. Two students from Parsons Community School are affected by the cuts, the councilman said.

“Have school summer programs replaced libraries and firehouses as the new pawns in an updated version of the budget dance?” he said. “The Council is ready to tango again—we didn’t accept these cuts last year and we won’t this year either. But why does the mayor put our kids and parents in this position? The funding must be restored.”

Lancman noted that kids participate in numerous educational activities, including literacy and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) as well as structured sports and service learning.

He also said they receive breakfast and lunch and that many programs include field trips to places such as county fairs on Long Island, Mets games and the local library.

Ben Thomases, executive director of the Queens Community House, said the organization offers comprehensive summer camp programs that enrich kids’ lives.

“Every year, we see lines around the block for our summer camp registrations and the city provides slots for only a fraction of those families,” Thomases said. “We urge the mayor to restore these summer camp slots as a critical support for working families and investment in our children’s future.”

The Child Center of New York, Campaign for Children, the New York Junior Tennis League and the YMCA of Greater NY/Jamaica Branch were also in attendance.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.