Close to 2,500 parents, teachers, students and supporters of public schools rallied at Hofstra University last night in a mass effort to save them from more than a billion dollars in proposed school spending cuts.
“No more cuts,” chanted the large crowd in protest of the $1.5 billion in education cuts Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed. “They say cut back. We say fight back.”
The rally, organized by the Long Island Progressive Coalition, Alliance for Quality Education, and the main New York State teachers union, NYSUT, echoed a similar demonstration in Sachem last month and another protest Wednesday involving Sachem educators. Like those events, Thursday night’s rally drew an angry standing room only crowd that had sharp words for Cuomo.
Public school advocates at Hofstra’s physical education building blasted not extending the so-called millionaire’s tax and said a 2-percent tax cap proposed by Cuomo could seriously hurt public education.
“We need the governor and legislature to fund education in New York State — not cut it,” said Cynthia Di Miceli, a West Hempstead Board of Education member and a parent of two.
Earlier Thursday, lawmakers reported that an extension of the millionaires tax was dead. The tax on high-earning New Yorkers is set to expire Dec. 31. It applies to individuals with $200,000 or more in annual taxable income and families with $300,000 or more.
Cuomo’s tax cap proposal would limit any property-tax hikes to a maximum of 2 percent or the rate of inflation.
Protesters said the spending cuts could lead to classes of up to 40 children and major cuts in programs and services.
“I cannot believe we live in a state where our millionaires come before our kids,” said Danielle Asher, lead organizer of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.
Several school buses from both counties sat parked outside the rally.
She has taught in the district for more than two decades. Central Islip school officials have said some 80 teachers could be let go this year.
“The fact is we are losing too many teachers,” Rodriguez said.
Twin Peyton LoSardo carried a sign telling Cuomo “I am not your scapegoat.”
“I want them to be representative of what will be lost,” her mother said.