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After-school programs could be cut by proposed federal budget

Under President Donald Trump's new budget, after-school programs in Central New York could be on the chopping block.

Under President Donald Trump's new budget, after-school programs in Central New York could be on the chopping block.

The president's budget calls for $9.2 billion in cuts from the Department of Education, which includes the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program. That program receives $1.2 billion annually from the federal government, which is then distributed to after-school organizations across the country.

Last year the Syracuse City School District received more than $1.1 million from the organization, but that would go away with the proposed budget. Officials at the Huntington Pre-K-8 School in Syacuse say nearly 40 academic and special after-school programs would be cut as a result.

One of the popular programs is the gardening club; kids are partnered with local community gardens where they get their hands dirty and learn how to grow plants and veggies. Another is the sewing club, which teaches students skills they may not learn otherwise.

No matter the club, it's clear students don't want to see them go. "I'd say we should keep it because, who knows if the kids of the future are gonna be able to know how to garden if we don't have this," said Olivia Lagrow, 11.

Also on the chopping block: a program that feeds children.

The SCSD receives about $56 million each year in federal funding; about $14.6 million of that provides free meals for kids during the school year and throughout the summer, offering free breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks.

The proposed federal budget would eliminate the after-school feeding program, which totals more than $800,000 dollars per year. District leaders say even if that happens, they won't let kids go hungry. "We always are looking for creative ways to be more efficient - to do more with less - but this budget proposal really does back us into a corner in terms of our ability to make sure that we're feeding all the children," says Suzanne Slack from the SCSD.

21,000 students in the SCSD eat at least two meals per day at school during the school year. The district says thousands of children also rely on the feeding program during the summer months.

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