Rich David Unveils Youth Success Initiative to Help Students Choose the Right Path

By Peter Quinn

Published 03/06 2014 04:56PM

Updated 03/06 2014 05:17PM

The City of Binghamton and the Binghamton City School District have created a Youth Success Initiative. The goal of the new program is to reach out to youth in the city to help them steer away from lives of crime and to become productive citizens.

A new mentoring program will be put in place, more athletic and recreational activities will be made available and additional civic duty instruction will be given. A school resource police officer will also be placed at both east and west middle schools.

Officials want students to connect with the officers so they realize that the police aren't bad people. Some students live in circumstances which police officers have had to intervene in, and as a result they associate them with negative experiences.

Former Binghamton High School Principal Albert Penna will head up the initiative. He said the effort is designed to help students realize that they are valuable.

"The youth success program will be strategic, comprehensive and action focused. Our aim is to reach all youth in all of the neighborhoods of the city," said Penna.

The City and school district say the initiative will not cost taxpayers additional money; instead money in their budgets will be used differently. The school district will pay the salaries of the two additional police officers and the city will pay their benefits. The City will also give Penna an annual $12,000 stipend.

"This new initiative will not cost the City of Binghamton one penny more. What I've done right now is taken existing funds in the 2014 budget, which is the salary and benefits of the position of Youth Bureau Director, and am utilizing them differently to accomplish all of these goals," said Mayor David.

The Youth Bureau Director was a position that former Mayor Matt Ryan had created. During the election, Mayor David was critical of it, saying the funds should be used differently.

Mayor David also says the Lee Barta Afterschool Program that was previously under the youth bureau will remain in operation and be overseen by the city parks department.

The Fresh Cycles Program will be managed by Broome County United Way.

The former Youth Bureau Advisory Board will remain intact, but its name will change.

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