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Students protest Schenectady school budget cuts

SCHENECTADY -- Hundreds of student's were up bright and early on a Saturday morning, making sure their voices are heard. The Schenectady School District is facing major budget cuts, and in turn may have to make significant cuts to school programs, extra curricular activities, and increase class sizes. The school board met Saturday morning to talk solutions.

"I don't know that anybody is going to be truly happy with the final decisions, and it's unfortunate but I just think their hands are tied," says Will Bernacet.

Bernacet has five kids, three of them attend Schenectady City Schools, and are involved in programs that may be on the chopping block.

"I think the final determinations of this would figure huge into our decision as to whether or not we stay in Schenectady," he says. 

One of the biggest concerns is cutting sports at Schenectady High School. We spoke with the Football and Men's Track and Field coach, who tells us between his two programs alone, well over 100 kids would be affected, and it could mean them not graduating.

"There's a lot of kids that come to school because of their athletics, because they know they have practice and they know they have teammates and they know they are representing something bigger than them, maybe for the first time in their life," says Mark Cerrona, the Head Football Coach.

"The reality is athletics, music, drama, all of these co-curricular activities are really valuable for kids to some degree they act as an inoculation against dropping out," says Larry Spring, the Schenectady Superintendent. 

The board is looking into elevating the tax levy to bridge the budget gap, so less cuts would have to be made.

"The board right now is looking at raising the property tax rate higher than we had previously considered," Spring says.

But, should that get shot down, they'll be back at it restructuring before the deadline on April 24th. There will be another meeting held April 9th, at 7pm.

 
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