School officials, parents protest state funding cuts
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Teachers and school officials in one South Florida school district are protesting budget cuts from the state that have reduced funding to districts across Florida by nearly 10 percent.
On Wednesday, school officials, teachers, parents and PTA members held a rally outside the Miami-Dade Public Schools headquarters in downtown Miami to protest the state's cuts to the school district's funding.
According to Miami-Dade Schools officials, the state has cut the district's funding by eight percent across the board, which has brought the district back to 2001 funding levels.
Despite this significant reduction in its funding, district officials said they have made substantial cuts to balance the budget. Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said, "Over the past three years alone, we've lost about $2 billion of total potential funds for education here in Miami-Dade."
Carvalho said, the district was able to balance the budget "while not firing a single teacher for economic reasons, while protecting the electives of art, music, physical education and world languages...says a lot for this board and, quite frankly, the kind of education that we want to deliver to this community."
Miami-Dade Schools was able to accomplish this feat by shutting down six ineffective alternative schools, re-negotiating health insurance and other private contracts for employees and cutting clerical, construction and administrative positions.
Teachers and school officials, however, are upset that while they struggle to create a balanced budget for the school district, the state has significantly cut its funding. "It is a fundamental responsibility of the state to, in fact, fully fund public education," said Carvalho. "It should not be a function of increasing taxes at the local level."
"Parents really need to know that it is unconscionable that their children do not have what they need because the state refuses to support public education," said Karen Aronowitz of the United Teachers of Dade.
School board members will vote on the district's budget, Wednesday evening.
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