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Proctor students to protest proposed school cuts

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Around three dozen Proctor High School students didn't begin their spring break Friday by sleeping in. By 9:00 a.m., these students were standing outside the district offices on the parkway in Utica, holding signs protesting proposed cuts to education.

Freshman Trinh Truong has a 99 average and wants to be a neurocardiologist. She organized Friday's protest. Truong is worried about students for whom learning doesn't come easily; the ones who need added motivation and incentive to learn.

"I fear that pretty soon we'll go to school and there'll be no motivation. Like sports keep a lot of kids' grades up. They only go to school because they want to play on a team," says Truong.

Truong wanted more than just validation from passing motorists, although she got plenty of that. She wants the students' voices to be heard by someone who can make a difference. So she invited NYS Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi to the protest. Brindisi was impressed with the way the students conducted themselves. He said the problem is an unfair funding formula that doesn't drive enough state aid to the high-need school districts that need it. He told the students that he's fighting in the assembly to change it; that he co-sponsored a bill currently in the assembly that would change the formula.

"We're struggling to keep maybe one or two A.P. programs in some of these low-wealth districts while other high-wealth districts have 25 A.P programs. That's not right. No matter where you live in this state you should get the same education," says Brindisi.

The students are protesting cuts that cost their Utica district 217 jobs, including 144 teachers.

"There's a lot of anger that a lot of sports teams have been cut and a lot of teachers because a few of my teachers got cut and it's kind of sad. You go to their class and they're such amazing teachers but you just can't get over the fact that they won't be here next year," says Truong.

The students realize they might not change anything today. But that won't stop them from making their voices heard.

"We may not be able necessarily to create money but we can at least give our comments and show Albany, show all the teachers that we're here, we do care and this is our voice. These signs are our voice," said sophomore Delvin Moody.

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