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Boston Parents Protest Planned Cuts to Staff, Programs

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Boston parents are preparing to fight potential school budget cuts that could lead to fewer classroom aides and less funding for specialized programs for the 2014-15 school year.

According to an article in The Boston Globe, parents, along with students and staff, braved the weather and crammed into the Boston School Committee meeting Wednesday night. Many of them testified against the proposed spending cuts at their schools.

John McDonough, Boston's interim superintendent announced an overall 3.8 percent increase in spending above the current year's budget, according to a story in The Boston Herald. But $60 million in rising costs, combined with a $32 million reduction in state and federal aid, means the district still faces a $14 million budget shortfall.

While McDonough told central office staff and administrators in a letter earlier this week that he could not guarantee their employment beyond June 30, he told The Herald Wednesday that it was "too soon" to determine whether teachers would be laid off.

But Boston parents aren't taking a wait-and-see approach. The Globe reports that parents are writing letters to school and state officials and starting a Facebook page to advocate for more school funding.

The proposed cuts, which are detailed on the district's website, are specific to each school. Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain may lose $550,000 for the upcoming school year. Heshan Berents-Weeramuni, co-chairman of Curley's school site council, described that financial loss as "catastrophic" in The Globe story.

Parents at Mendell Elementary School in Roxbury are being asked to raise almost $30,000 to save two programs in the fall: Playworks, which provides organized games and activities at recess, and a music program for its youngest students. Even if the parents reach that hefty fundraising goal, according to story, the school may still have to lay off two classroom aides.

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