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SOTA students join protests over plan to lay off teachers

Alex Crichton

Hundreds of students from School of Arts gathered in the parking lot to join the protests against proposed layoffs of over 150 teachers in the district.

SOTA is not on the list of schools slated to lose teachers that was provided to WXXI and CITY by the teachers union, but eigth grader Danny Folwell says the school will lose several staff members because of poor financial decisions.

“We need to work hard to get the money back.  It's a real problem,” he said. “We don't want to lose our teachers.  They're the ones doing the real work, and the people downtown are getting paid a lot more.”

Other students pointed to Central Office, saying teachers aren’t to blame.

``It's not their fault that the school district's in debt," Kianna Green said. 

"They're firing teachers to cut down because they're in debt...but they could lower their pay, too," said Amarah Anderson.

"The city school district is already failing us already, so why cut teachers that really want to help us?" said DeShance Brown.

Students from SOTA showing support for all teachers in the district

Others said losing a teacher would be like losing a family member.

“I'd lose part of the family,” said Senior Asha Titus. “Like they're a family.  This community is my family.”

Jade Rodriguez had a different take; while she agrees with her fellow students that cutting teachers isn't the answer, she apologized for some of the messages the students were sending.

“I want to apologize for how our school is representing ourselves right now,” Rodriguez said. “With these signs saying 'F the school district' and everything.  If we want to get out a real message, we should do it the proper way.”

Rodriguez says the district is spending too much money on providing students with gadgets like Chromebooks, instead making teachers a priority.

A spokesman for the Rochester City School district says the Chromebooks were funded through a separate source of funding which did not involve an expense for the district. The Chromebooks came through the 1Million Project Foundation.

The Board of Education is expected to vote on the proposed cuts at its December 19 meeting.  More protests are expected from students, parents and teachers.

Students at School of the Arts protested proposed teacher layoffs:">