Students march on District headquarters, protesting doomsday budget

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks

Philadelphia School District students are furious that they may have to endure even more cuts after they’ve already lost several nurses, central office staff members and a beloved annual musical at the High School for Creative and Performing Arts.

A group of roughly 250 students marched to the District’s headquarters at 440 N. Broad St., where they held their own sort of musical on Tuesday afternoon to protest what some have called next year’s "doomsday budget."

The protesters danced and played instruments. They waved signs that read, "Schools Are Not a Business" and "Money for Education, Not Incarceration."

They sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which was once famously performed in 1900 by African American students celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

The School District is facing a $300 million deficit next fiscal year, officials say, if the city, state and labor unions don’t chip in. District officials are asking for an additional $60 million from the city and $120 million from the state. Without it, they’ve warned that they’ll have to go without guidance counselors, librarians and extracurricular activities.

Rebecca Chalil, a senior at the High School for Creative and Performing Arts, said she can’t imagine additional cuts. She said losing a musical was a huge blow to her classmates’ morale.

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