Coast teachers rally for full education funding - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Coast teachers rally for full education funding

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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Teachers made their feelings known about steep cuts to Mississippi's education budget this weekend. More than a hundred teachers, students, and community members from across the coast gathered at Courthouse Road in Gulfport.

For hours, the group held signs and yelled, "Get some guts. Restore the cuts." Their message for the governor and the state lawmakers was to stop cuts to education, because they know without full funding many of them won't have jobs next year.

"A lot of teachers are concerned. A lot of assistant teachers are concerned. A lot of non-certified employees in the district are very concerned," said Heather Blenden, a school principal. "Parents are concerned about the quality of education that their children will be receiving next year."

Teachers say if there are massive layoffs in Mississippi, they have no doubt the quality of education will be affected. 

"As far as the children, our classroom sizes are going to be increasing," said Blenden. "We're going to be cutting additional programs that keep kids motivated about school like athletics and music. They are going to be making cuts in remedial programs that help the most at risk students."

Marie Schonewitz is a teacher at Three Rivers Elementary in Harrison County. "I've been a teacher for 33 years, and this is some of the worse budget cuts I've seen. I'm so disappointed that our coast legislators are choosing to cut education when it is our future"

Schonewitz joined other teachers in encouraging state leaders to dip into Mississippi's rainy day reserve.

"In our district, we're losing our dropout prevention specialists," said Blenden. "Those are the people that are targeting the children in our state who need the most help and who are going to be filling up the prisons that they [legislators] are going to have to continue to fund over and over again over education."

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