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SLC students planning to strike out against teacher cuts

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BRASHER FALLS - Some St. Lawrence Central School students plan to strike out against cuts made in the district’s 2014-15 budget.

“We, the students of St. Lawrence Central, want to be heard when we say no to the budget cut and the loss of our teachers. They are taking everything away from us and we don’t have a say,” according to freshman Cheyenne Krise, who said she is standing up for her peers who will be joining her during a picket on May 6.

The cuts that are of particular concern, she said, are music, art and physical education. The district’s 2014-15 budget calls for the elimination of several positions, including one math teacher, one physical education teacher, one business teacher, a half-time language teacher, one teacher assistant, one school counselor, one art teacher, one teacher aide, one cook, 5 percent of an athletic director and a half-time music teacher.

“They’re taking all the programs away from us. We will not stand for the loss. We need to be heard,” Ms. Krise said.

As a result, she said, the students plan to picket outside the school on May 6.

“We’re planning to go outside in front of the school and stand out there. Under the Constitution of the United States we have the freedom of speech and we want to be heard,” she said.

Ms. Krise said they selected that day because the board of education will be holding a budget hearing at 6 p.m.

“We’re hoping since we’re standing out there that they might see us,” she said.

They plan to picket during the school day, take a break and return for the board meeting.

“I was thinking we’d go out there from 7 to 3. Then we’ll go home and get some rest and come back,” Ms. Krise said. “I think it will make an influence. My voice will definitely be heard.”

Before the board of education approved the $21,353,197 spending plan this week, they heard from several teachers, students, graduates and community members who implored the board to look at other alternatives to the cuts. They spoke during the public comment portion, as well as during the budget discussion by board members.

Board member Jonathan Burnett voted against the spending plan, believing that the district should have used more fund balance to save positions, a position shared by some of those in the audience. They are using $450,000 in fund balance.

The problem, Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti told them, was that they were facing a $750,000 gap, and there was no other way to bridge that gap without affecting instruction.

But Ms. Krise said she believes there are other avenues, including dipping into the fund balance which will stand at $2.7 million after using $450,000 to balance next year’s budget.

“There are other ways to save. We have money. He just won’t use it,” she said.

Mr. Vigliotti and high school Principal Tracy A. Davison were out of the district Friday and unavailable for comment.

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