Western New Yorkers Protest Proposed Cuts In School Funding

March 9, 2011 Updated Mar 9, 2011 at 3:30 PM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

March 9, 2011 Updated Mar 9, 2011 at 3:30 PM EDT

Concern turned to action for many teachers, parents and students in Western New York as they head to Albany to fight against proposed budget cuts.

"Everyone says New York State cannot handle one more cut to education. This is the biggest cut ever to us as a state," protest organizer Chy'Nel Lee said.

They are protesting the $1.5 billion dollars Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing to cut from school districts across the state. They are also demanding that the governor reinstate a tax on the wealthy when it expires at the end of the year.

"The 'millionaires tax' is set to sunset and what we're saying is the way to offset these cuts is to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers," Lee said.

Irene Hawkesworth has five kids in the Buffalo School District where hundreds of teachers could be laid off because of the cuts. She is worried about the quality of her children's education.

"It's just ridiculous! I think they could find something else to cut," Hawkesworth said.

Governor Cuomo said these cuts are necessary to bridge the $10 billion gap in funding across the state. He said he does not plan to cut services within the classroom but said the money will come from other areas including transportation and food services.

Parents and teachers agree that with this large of a cut in funding, the students will be negatively affected.

"We need to be seen and heard. You can write a letter and it will go to the secretary, she will stamp it. If we go there, they know we mean business," Hawkesworth said.

Trisha Nabaroli is not only a parent in the Buffalo schools but she is also a teacher.

"I think we're all in this together and I'm just trying to support my peers and my children and others. Those who can't be here I want to be a voice," Nabaroli

Many of these people said they understand schools will have to sacrifice but they say now, too much is on the line.