Hundreds gather to protest $1 billion school budget cuts

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Protesters are saying that kids will suffer due to school budget cuts

PHOENIX - Facing $1 billion in budget cuts, school leaders from around the state are accusing the legislature of balancing the budget on the backs of Arizona children.

Hundreds gathered at the State Capitol, and it all started with a letter from the Superintendent at the Florence School District.

Teachers stood on ladders to lead what has become a grass-roots effort.

Protesters are saying State Legislators are out of touch.

"The people in Arizona making the decision, their kids have already gone through school," says Florence teacher, Valencia Coppel. "They forget that the kids need to be a priority."

The legislature is trying to fill the state's $1.6 billion budget gap.

Options include cutting all-day kindergarten, school jobs, and classroom supplies, which will mean bigger class sizes and a reduction in the overall number of school days.

"I don't understand it," says Coppel. "I don't agree with it."

Hundreds of teachers, students, and parents covered the Capitol lawn in protest.

Mesa teacher Midge Gamboa says, "If they do make these cuts children will suffer--plain and simple. They'll suffer."

Many at the rally say that they understand the budget crunch and the need to make cuts somewhere, but they believe schools are being unfairly targeted.

"Children are easier to pick on than adults," says teacher Bob Aborne.

"We need to stand up and tell the legislature they need to be more reasonable in their cuts."

Legislators say school cuts are among many options they're looking at to balance the budget.

The rallying crowd wants to make sure the options don't become reality.

Legislators want the balanced budget on the governor's desk by February 1.