High school seniors in Lansingburgh, N.Y., set up class in a school parking lot Thursday to protest state budget cuts and school reopening modifications, according to WRGB.
The protest comes after New York cut 20% of school funding across the state, which led some school districts, including the Lansingburgh Central School District, to change reopening plans.
Students in grades 3-12 who opted to attend class in person before the start of the 2020-2021 school year under the district’s hybrid learning model are now required to partake in remote learning.
“Lansingburgh is more reliant on state aid than wealthier, suburban school districts, and the decision to cut state aid means a loss of $6.5 million from our annual operating budget. This funding cut made it very financially difficult to reopen using the district’s original plan,” the school’s website reads.
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Lansingburgh Central School District’s superintendent, Antonio Abitabile, told CBS 6 that $6.5 million is about 12% of the district’s total budget, which “made it to the point where it was impossible to staff our buildings fully and safely” during the coronavirus pandemic.
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The City School District of Albany announced on Sept. 2 that it would be cutting 222 jobs due to cuts in state and federal funding related to COVID-19 and similarly voted to require students in grades 7-12 to switch to remote learning.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo withheld about $300 million in aid for districts across the state due to a $14.5 billion deficit resulting from the pandemic, as the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The budget cuts and subsequent changes to learning models have frustrated working parents and students alike, according to the Journal.
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“I appreciate the fact that they are angry,” Abitabile told the outlet in reference to students who protested Thursday. “When’s the last time you heard high school students begging to come back to school?”