NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York City budget deal has saved a critical school counseling program, along with thousands of jobs for students in the city.
Nycole Dash, a counselor at MS 224 in the Bronx, thought she’d have to leave her students and transfer to another school after the Department of Education proposed cutting the Single Shepherd counseling program.
During 11th hour budget negotiations Tuesday night, though, the city approved to save it.
“Elated. I was like, oh my god, yes!” Dash said.
Maintaining Single Shepherd will allow about 130 counselors to stay on at dozens of middle and high schools in low-income, at-risk communities in Brownsville and the South Bronx.
“We are going to help these children, we are going to help their families, and we’re gonna get them to the best places possible,” Dash said.
Twelve-year-old Jenesis Grant says over the last two years, Ms. Dash has instilled confidence in her, and she couldn’t imagine graduating next year without her.
CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez broke the news that City Council saved the program.
“They did? Ms. Dash is gonna be there!?” Jenesis said. “I’m happy, really happy.”
Monday on CBS2, Bronx Academy of Letters counselor Kevin Brooks made a plea to the city to keep the program, which, since its inception in 2015, had increased the graduation rate at Bronx Letters to more than 80%.
“I’m glad that they did the right thing,” Brooks said. “Whatever September looks like, whether it’s virtual or in the building, we’re gonna be able to go in there and do some good work.”
The city is also partially restoring the Summer Youth Employment Program, or SYEP, which it cut back in April. The city was able to restore part of the program by shifting more than $100 million from the NYPD to youth programming.
SYEP placed nearly 75,000 students in paid positions last year. Only 35,000 will be employed this summer.
LaToya Beechum, an 11th grader who is applying for a spot, says the city is still shortchanging its youth.
“Thirty-five is something, but it’s just not enough,” she said. “What if someone needs this job more than me? Now I’m taking the spot from them.”
Nora Moran, from the United Neighborhood Houses advocacy group, says the employment program likely won’t get off the ground by its original July 6 start date.
Students still have to apply and many job providers laid off workers when SYEP was eliminated in the spring.
“Providers now have to figure out, how do I bring my staff back? How quickly can I bring them back to get a program up and running?” Moran said.
Summer program organizers hope the city will be flexible with a start date to ensure young people don’t miss out on an opportunity.