Teachers, students protest deep cuts for Durham schools

April 30, 2010 5:21:05 AM PDT
On Thursday, teachers and students asked the Durham school board to do better than a $22.3 million reduction for next year's budget."They want to talk about cutting money, but they can't do that if they don't listen to the students first," Hillside High Junior Elisa Benitez said.

Interim Superintendant Hank Hurd says the proposal gives a new meaning to bare bones.

Cuts range from eliminating 60 central services jobs, bottled water and refreshments in meetings and cell phone usage, to reducing resource officers at middle schools. But the most severe blows strike classrooms with 323 job cuts -- 237 of them teaching positions.

"If our students come into our classrooms and give us a C paper and expect to get an A it's never going to happen," Hillside History Teacher Bryan Proffitt said. "Right, so we need the school board to turn in an A budget."

The proposal comes as Durham is to face a Wake County Superior Court judge for underperforming schools.

It's why students at Hillside High School met earlier Thursday to prepare for a protest on Friday. They painted banners and umbrella's to represent the county's $36 million rainy day fund -- they say can help now under a proposal budget that would increase classroom sizes by about four students.

"It's raining," Hillside English Teacher Yolanda Whitted said. "I mean, we want them to release emergency funds ? it's raining day funds, if not all of them, a part of them because our classrooms are going to get immensely larger and we're going to have a hard time teaching."

The students will rally at Hillside High School at 2:30 p.m. and march to the downtown courthouse.

Meanwhile, a public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 6.

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