Hundreds rally in Richmond to oppose Education cuts

By: Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Central Virginia parents want Governor Bob McDonnell and state lawmakers to save area schools.

A large crowd of parents and children gathered at the Capitol Sunday to protest education cuts.

The group was a couple hundred strong and the battle cry included "keep the freeze."

They're referring to the state school funding formula that Governor McDonnell wants to reactivate, leading to a shift of money from school districts in Central Virginia to those in Northern Virginia.

"Our public schools are what's making our children," said parent Michelle Williams. "They're building them up and now you're trying to tear them down and that's just ridiculous."

Williams' 11-year-old son is in fifth grade at Cary Elementary School.

His favorite school activities include gym, art and music.

Williams is afraid those could land on the chopping block.

"We are already having a hard enough time in our schools keeping our kids motivated," she said. "Now he's thinking about taking what we do have and I just don't understand."

And she's not the only one.

Children and parents rallied around capitol square, trying to influence lawmakers as they draft the state budget.

Williams fears the additional cuts if the Governor's proposal to change the local composite index or state school funding formula goes through.

Richmond Public Schools could stand to lose more than $11 million.

Chesterfield could get $3.4 million less.

In Henrico, about $1.4 million and in Hanover, almost $800 thousand in cuts.

That money would go to school districts like Fairfax, which according to the way the formula is calculated, isn't as wealthy.

"The thought of taking from any school is ridiculous," said Williams. "Taking from one school and giving to another is even more so. I think they need to rethink that plan and ideas and realize who they're hurting: our future. These children are our future."

While the crowd was chanting outside, inside the General Assembly Building, the House and Senate budget writing committees presented their spending plans.

Right now the state faces a $4 billion revenue shortfall.

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