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Brighton Park Parents, Students March Against Budget Cuts

By aaroncynic in News on Jul 12, 2013 6:00PM

Photo credit: Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist

Nearly 200 CPS parents and students converged on Chicago School Board President David J. Vitale’s office Thursday morning to protest budget cuts to the school system. Flanked by the Thomas Kelly High School marching band, who later played a swan song out front as the school will lose its band teacher with the cuts, several parents and students spoke on how the proposed budget cuts would affect them.

“We came here because it doesn’t seem that he cares about our children,” said Anita Caballero, board president of the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, who helped organize the protest outside Vitale’s office. Caballero said that Brighton Park alone will see $7.5 million worth of budget cuts, resulting in 44 teachers and 23 other employees losing their jobs next year. Overall, CPS parents and teachers are looking at more than $90 million in cuts which would affect 155 schools.

“My school itself is going to receive a budget cut of about $4 million” said Kelly High School student Juan Estrada. “I was going to attend a geometry course over the summer, but there wasn’t enough funds due to the cuts.” Demonstrators also criticized the city and Mayor’s office for millions of TIF funds which will go to the new basketball stadium near DePaul. “The problem isn’t lack of money, it’s how you spend it,” said Caballero.

After the press conference the group, led by the Kelly High School Marching band, marched to the Board of Education offices on Clark Street where they demanded a meeting with CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. While Bennett did not appear, a meeting with CPS officials and residents of Brighton Park will take place on July 17 at James Shields Elementary School.