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'Keep the pressure on:' Parents pack City Hall and Harrisburg over school budget cuts

Parents packed City Hall today to rally against school budget cuts. Rikard Larma/Metro Parents packed City Hall today to rally against school budget cuts. Rikard Larma/Metro

Parents of students in the Philadelphia School District descended today not only on City Hall here but in Harrisburg to hand deliver thousands of letters written by city students urging legislators to help fund the school budget.

Sarah Clark Stuart, who has a freshman at the Science Leadership Academy on 22nd Street in Philadelphia, made the trek to the state capital with about 20 others to let her voice heard.

"I support all the bills," Stuart said. "I want all the bills passed. I want the city to deliver $60 million to the school district. I want the state to deliver $120 million."

City Council is discussing two bills that Mayor Michael Nutter said would help fund the $300 million shortfall in the School District of Philadelphia's budget. One is upping taxes on liquor-by-the drink; the other is increasing the cigarette tax by $2.

Stuart, along with other parents and students, visited more than 20 offices today and ended at Gov. Tom Corbett's office where they—in threes—marched to the receptionist's desks and dumped thousands of letters.

"The kids were absolutely fabulous," Stuart said, adding that at a press conference today, several students read from their letters.

"As far as I'm concerned," Stuart said, "everything has to be put on the table. Schools can't be schools without these funds."

With only a few more weeks left before final decisions on the budget need to be made, Stuart said there's no turning back now.

"We're going to keep it up," she said. "What we came away with is we have to keep the pressure on. We have to keep ourselves front and center and make education the number one priority."

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