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Pine Hills teachers attend rally against budget cuts

March 16, 2011

by Kayla Matteo

Teachers from Pine Hills Elementary School along with hundreds of students and community members piled into William S. Hackett Middle School on Delaware Avenue Thursday afternoon to protest proposed budget cuts in the Albany city school district for the 2011-2012 school year. The rally, organized by the Alliance for Quality Education, Citizens Action, and New York State United Teachers, addressed many issues that could be brought about by the proposed education cuts including  job losses for educators and school staff, the implementation of larger classes, and program funding cuts.

Protesters file into Hackett Middle School (Kayla Matteo)

Governor Cuomo’s proposed $4.3 million cut in aid to the Albany City School District for 2011-2012 is reminiscint of last year’s budget cut of $6.7 million which eliminated 100 positions, making the total number of jobs lost in the last two years alone more than 200, according to the Albany district. This year’s budget cut, if passed, would put another 120 jobs on the line.

“I’m here because I don’t want the kids to lose their special programs,” said Caroline Busch, a teacher at Pine Hills Elementary. “When they cut the budget we lose creative programs like art classes and music classes which I really think are essential to the learning process.”

Her colleague, Shelly Flood, said:  “We’re here to support good hard-working teachers who are at risk of losing resources and working with less and less and less and who are also at risk of losing their jobs.”

Another attendee, SUNY Albany student, Jake Homovich said, “It’s important to support the education system because

Caroline Busch, teacher at Pine Hills Elementary (Kayla Matteo)

without a good base education it makes it hard for kids to get into good colleges and that could affect them in their later lives, like when it comes time to get a job.”

Those in attendance at the rally wore stickers saying “College & Careers Not More Cuts!” given out by the Alliance for Quality Education, and carried signs that read “Educate New York State: A Rally for Public Ed “At the conclusion of the rally, all those in attendance marched with their signs back into the street. -30-

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