Advocates say that our schools are in crisis and we can't afford another year of cuts. The governor proposed a 4.4% increase in education spending, which could mean sweeping cuts to classes, teachers, and programs. Eyewitness News followed a group of Utica teachers as they made the trip to the capitol.
"Class sizes are going up, the requirements are going up for teachers and students," says Nicholas Rauch, Conkling Elementary School teacher.
"I'm glad for my children that live in New Hartford. The classes sizes are smaller, they don't have the high needs that we have. We're working hard in Utica, we're trying our best. We need some assistance from outside this extremely poor city," says David Schiavi, Conkling Elementary School teacher.
These 2 Utica teachers boarded a bus to Albany. They were the only 2 from our region but that didn't stop them from speaking up. We met them at the rally and they say the main message among the crowd: Equality for every student.
"If your child is educated in a district where the tax base is capable, that's great, but in the higher needs district, we'd really like to see the legislature take up some of the fight," says Rauch.
"It's really about giving everyone an equal opportunity to educate themselves, build skills, so that they can be productive members of society," says Schiavi.
And parents from across the state agree.
"We stayed in New York because of the education and it is painful for me to see what has happened to the public education," says Janine Sullivan, Albany County parent.
And it wasn't just educators and parents voicing their opinions, hundreds of students marched around the state capitol demanding equal funding across the state.
"Every student does deserve an equal chance in every bit of education," says Aaron Fonda, Fulton County student.
"Especially the smaller districts because in those districts there's not as much to do around, and there's a smaller amount of kids so they really connect with things like music and sports," says Stephanie Osterhout, Albany County student.
But the students say some of these cuts have already taken effect.
"Junior varsity programs are being cut and we're trying out best to fund it ourselves but we just can't handle it," says Dan Gumienny, Fulton County student.
"We lost a lot of our teachers and a lot of jv and modified sports, we've lost a certain amount of classes. And we almost lost our band and it was really special that we got to keep it and we worry about losing it every year when these cuts come around," says Osterhout.
Advocates say they're calling for $350 million dollars in additional school aid evenly distributed based on student needs. And $200 million dollars in fiscal stabilization funds to be evenly distributed through either the Foundation Formula or the Gap Elimination Adjustment.