Students protest against school funding cuts

TRENTON – A sea of yellow T-shirts could be observed in front of the Statehouse, as students between kindergarten and 12th grade participated in a day of social action against education program cuts.

While the timing was not the most opportune, given that lawmakers and Gov. Chris Christie are on summer recess – as well as the fact that the Christie Administration announced Tuesday it would increase state funding at school districts across the state – participants said it was important to get their voices heard. In the past school year, students said they saw program cuts in art, music, and sports.

Some 150 students from the Freedom House summer reading and enrichment programs based out of Atlantic City, Trenton and Paterson took part in the rally.

“This is a day for them to learn about the impact of government decisions,” said Jasmine Ross, a site coordinator for Freedom House. “They can be the ones who can make a difference.”

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-15), of Trenton, who addressed the participants, was pleased about the governor’s funding increases, heartened to know there was “a bit of sound reasoning on his part.”

Asked about the increased funds, Ross said, “I personally think it’s about time.”

The Trenton public school district will receive $227 million in state aid, or about $12.5 million more than the prior school year. Atlantic City school district will receive about $16.6 million, a $2.8 million increase. And Paterson will receive $398 million, a $32.3 million hike from the just-completed school year.

Students protest against school funding cuts