After protests, city will restore funding for summer programs

The de Blasio administration announced it will restore funding to middle-school summer programs that it cut in its final budget proposal.

“After hearing from parents and kids, we’re pleased to announce that the administration will fund the full 34,000 middle school seats for this upcoming summer, for this year only — so that families and providers are not left hanging,” said Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for de Blasio.

The city’s response comes just hours after City Council members and advocates ratcheted up their criticism of de Blasio, whose signature education initiative included an expansion of after-school programs over the summer. During testimony at a budget hearing on Thursday,  Chancellor Carmen Fariña told council members she believed that a resolution would come “soon,” but advocates who attended a rally outside City Hall said they remained uncertain.

A city official said that programs were erroneously notified in March that their after-school seats would funded during the summer. But the official also said the funding, which was first provided in last year’s budget, was only intended to be in place for one year.

After reward letters went out to providers in March, the city redirected $27.7 million originally set aside for the summer programs to its initiative for the city’s lowest-performing schools.

It’s not clear if the city is planning to spend the same amount to restore the summer seats. The spokeswoman did the city say where the funds would come from.

“We thank the Mayor for fully restoring funding for summer programs, and for acting quickly on this critical issue,” the Campaign for Children, a 150-member coalition of after-school and summer program providers, said in a statement. “We are also grateful to the City Council for their strong, continued support. The City has ensured that no student will lose access to a safe, educational place to go this summer while their parents are at work. Children, parents, and providers are breathing a sigh of relief tonight and look forward to a wonderful, enriching summer.”