Protesters Demand More Money for Schools

Protesters Demand More Money for Schools

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -

It's a critical week for the School District of Philadelphia. State lawmakers in Harrisburg will be deciding how much money to give the district. And that will dictate whether the district can bring back the thousands of teachers and support personnel it just laid off.

Hundreds of protesters made the trek from Philadelphia to Harrisburg Tuesday, in a last-minute desperate push for money. They shouted, "Save our Schools!" The message to lawmakers: "We care! We care about our kids," Tami Jackson insisted. "This is a critical time in time in terms of education, and these types of cuts are devastating." Jackson received a pink slip from the district, which eliminated all three counselor positions at her school.

The Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center, a non-partisan watchdog group, says that under Governor Corbett, the state gave public schools $812 million less in the fiscal year now ending, than it did two years prior. That's $459 less per student. So the protesters took direct aim at the governor. "On the Governor's path, we have found closed buildings, furloughed educators, students in crowded classrooms, lack of resources, programs eliminated," a PSEA representative told the crowd.

It's going to be up to state lawmakers to decide this week whether to give the Philadelphia School District the $120 million it's asking for. But the Senate Majority Leader says the district will have to stand in line. "Philadelphia is not alone," State Sen. Dominic Pileggi insisted. "Allentown, Reading, York, Lancaster, Upper Darby, other cities like that are all facing severe pressures on their school budgets," Pileggi said.

Protesters are hoping their turnout will help sway the lawmakers who will decide how much money Philadelphia gets. Last week it appeared the state would come up with most of what the district is asking for, which could mean School Counselor Tami Jackson would get her job back. When Fox 29 asked Jackson whether she thought that would happen, she said, "I don't know. I don't know. 50-50, 50-50."

State lawmakers must approve a budget, and decide how much school funding to dole out, by July first.

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