Hundreds of Philadelphia students protest budget cuts

Philadelphia school budget protest

May 7, 2013 3:13:34 PM PDT
Hundreds of students gathered outside the Philadelphia School District headquarters to protest millions of dollars in budget cuts.

It started with a march through the city with students rallying against cuts that could happen because of a big budget shortfall.

They chanted "No ifs, no budgets, no education cuts."

"I see a bunch of people that are fighting for a future that may not be here any more. We are the future, and if we don't fight for our rights now, we won't have a future," said 9th grader Dynas Johnson.

This is a community still reeling from the approval of a plan that will close dozens of schools. Now the district is facing a $300 million budget deficit which means cuts to staffing and programs.

"These are things that we believe are essential to our schools - nurses, counselors, art, music. But we only get so much money from the folks who provide us the revenue," said school district spokesman Fernando Gallard.

Most of the high school students who rallied outside school district headquarters in Spring Garden are from Creative and Performing Arts, or CAPA.

Their core curriculum is the arts, which most likely wouldn't be greatly impacted by the cuts. However, they spoke out for other schools that could lose essential programs.

"Our arts, that are going to be our lives someday, they're just gone. Education is the most important thing! We're the future!" said 9th grader Brandi Giliotti.

For these passionate teenagers, they hope someone is listening.

"They better hear us. We didn't do this for nothing," Johnson said.

The district says right now it can only afford the basics such as principals and teachers. It's hoping for emergency funding from the city, the state and labor union concessions to avoid the drastic cuts.

Budget approval needs to happen by May 30th.